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Miami strengthens position as nation's best

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 7, 2002

Miami moved closer to becoming a unanimous No. 1 in the Associated Press poll, and Florida moved closer to dropping out of the Top 25.

Miami moved closer to becoming a unanimous No. 1 in the Associated Press poll, and Florida moved closer to dropping out of the Top 25.

The Hurricanes beat Connecticut 48-14 and received 73 of 74 first-place votes Sunday from the sports writers and broadcasters on the AP panel. Miami had 71 No. 1 votes last week.

Oklahoma switched places with Texas, moving to No. 2. Miami had 1,849 points to 1,707 for Oklahoma, which beat Missouri 31-24. The Longhorns, 17-15 winners over Oklahoma State, were No. 3, with the remaining first-place vote and 1,698 points.

Florida, which lost 17-14 at Mississippi, tumbled 10 to No. 16. The Gators have the longest current streak of consecutive polls at 209, and play No. 18 LSU on Saturday.

Virginia Tech remained No. 4, followed by Ohio State, Georgia, Oregon, Notre Dame, Florida State and Tennessee. Air Force, which routed Navy 48-7, moved in at No. 21, along with No. 24 Auburn and No. 25 Mississippi.

But coach Fisher DeBerry is not impressed with Air Force's first ranking in three years.

"I'll be honest with you: I could care less if we're not ranked, I could care less where we're ranked," DeBerry said. "The important thing is that we continue to get better because we've still got a lot of areas where we can improve."

The Falcons are 5-0, their best start since winning the first seven in the 1997 season, and in position to win the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy a sixth straight year. A victory over Army on Nov. 9 would clinch the trophy.

Alabama, Colorado State and Fresno State dropped out after losses.

In the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll, the top five are Miami, Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech and Ohio State.

LSU's Toefield to miss UF game

BATON ROUGE -- LSU running back LaBrandon Toefield, who has had more than his share of injuries, has another one that will keep him from playing against Florida.

Toefield broke his left arm in the first quarter of a victory over Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday. He had surgery Sunday.

"The doctor said the fracture was relatively clean and went back together pretty easy," LSU spokesman Michael Bonnette said. "It was broken into two pieces and there were no surprises in the surgery."

Toefield, a Southeastern Conference first-team pick last year, was scheduled to stay overnight in the hospital. He will miss at least six weeks, Bonnette said.

Toefield had his redshirt season in 1999 after missing his 1998 senior season in high school with a torn right knee ligament. After gaining 682 yards in 2000 and 992 last season, he missed most of the SEC Championship Game after tearing a ligament in his left knee in the second quarter. He also missed the Sugar Bowl.

The junior is not out permanently and should play in the NFL, coach Nick Saban said. The chances of getting a medical hardship ruling from the NCAA are slim because Toefield has played in five games.

GEORGIA TECH: Quarterback Damarius Bilbo could get more playing time, but he's not ready to start, coach Chan Gailey said. Bilbo, a redshirt freshman, played a few possessions against Wake Forest, throwing a 69-yard touchdown to Kerry Watkins in the fourth quarter that put the Yellow Jackets ahead.

The Demon Deacons rallied for a 24-21 victory. Starter A.J. Suggs failed to move Georgia Tech on its final two possessions, drawing boos from the home crowd. Suggs, a transfer from Tennessee, has struggled in his first season as starter. He is averaging 155 yards passing with five interceptions and six touchdowns.

Bilbo is a better runner than Suggs and has a strong arm, but his passing often is erratic and his knowledge of the offense is limited.

"We'll continue to evaluate exactly how much Damarius is going to play," Gailey said.

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