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Gators fall out of Top 25 for first time since 1990

Miami, meanwhile, is No. 1 for 19th consecutive week, tying Notre Dame (1988-89) for the record; FSU is No. 12.

By BRIAN LANDMAN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 14, 2002

Miami, meanwhile, is No. 1 for 19th consecutive week, tying Notre Dame (1988-89) for the record; FSU is No. 12.

It should have been expected, and it should be the least of their concerns.

But with a 36-7 home loss to LSU, the Florida Gators' national leading streak of consecutive weeks in the Associated Press college football writers Top 25 poll ended at 209 Sunday. The streak dated to 1990, Steve Spurrier's first as coach.

The Gators (4-3) are No. 24 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.

"I'm kind of surprised they're out of it," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "I can't picture them out of it."

On Sept. 29, Nebraska's appearance in the AP poll (beginning Oct.5, 1981) ended at 348 consecutive weeks. The Cornhuskers' drop from No. 20 made the Gators' streak the longest.

With Florida's fall from No. 16, the longest streak belongs to Michigan. The Wolverines, who needed overtime to nip Penn State 27-24, are in the Top 25 for the 71st consecutive week, at No.11.

But first-year Florida coach Ron Zook repeatedly has said he's unconcerned about the polls, pointing out it only matters what you're ranked at the end of the season.

Forgive Miami if it has a different take.

The Hurricanes (6-0) are No. 1 for the 19th consecutive week dating to last season, tying Notre Dame (1988-89) for the record.

But their hold on the top spot is a little less tight thanks to their struggles against FSU, which fell three spots to No. 12, and Oklahoma's 35-24 victory over Texas in one of the other ballyhooed games Saturday that shook up the latest poll.

Miami lost eight first-place votes, and the Sooners received the other nine. (Then-No.3 Texas had one first-place vote Oct. 6.)

Since its rout of Florida in the second week of the season, Miami had earned at least 68 first-place votes and had at least a 118-point lead.

Miami now has 65 first-place votes and leads No. 2 Oklahoma (6-0) by 65 points.

Bowden, who a week ago insisted Miami was on a different level than the rest of the teams in the country, said he hasn't wavered.

"You see how great they are," he said. "We've got a 13-point lead in the last 10 minutes, and they come back and win the doggone game. I don't think anything I said about them was wrong. The only thing we might have shown is we're closer to them than we thought."

The pollsters believe others might be, too.

Virginia Tech is third, followed by Ohio State, Georgia, which beat then-No. 10 Tennessee 18-13, Oregon, which escaped Los Angeles with a 31-30 victory against UCLA, and Notre Dame.

Texas fell to eighth. Iowa State moved up two spots to ninth, its first Top 10 ranking, and Washington State is No.10.

Hurricanes coach Larry Coker seemed unfazed by the poll. He still was aglow after his team's 28-27 victory at the Orange Bowl.

The 'Canes rallied from a halftime deficit, and 27-14 in the final quarter, for the first time in Coker's 1 1/2 seasons.

"I don't care if they're one-point or 50-point (victories). You better enjoy those," he told the Associated Press on Sunday. "If you can't enjoy the wins, there's not a whole lot of fun in this thing."

If human voters are adding -- or subtracting -- style points, then he might be a bit nervous what a handful of computers will do.

The first Bowl Championship Series poll comes out Oct.21, and the top teams in the final poll play in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan.3 for the national title.

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