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Florida stays ahead of Utah in final AP poll

Associated Press

MIAMI – Florida is No. 1 in the AP Top 25. Utah is perfect at No. 2, though not perfectly happy.

Texas and Southern California also claimed to be the best – but media voters didn’t think so.

The Gators received 48 first-place votes and 1,606 points in the poll released early today, after they beat Oklahoma 24-14 in the BCS national title game.

Utah, the only team in major college football to go undefeated this season, got 16 first-place votes and 1,519 points.

“I thought we had an outside chance,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said in a telephone interview with the AP. “There was enough national sentiment, I thought we might get the No. 1 slot. It wasn’t to be.”

Florida won its third AP national championship and second in the last three seasons. Steve Spurrier and Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel led the Gators to the 1996 title.

No. 3 USC received one first-place vote. Texas was No. 4, and will have to settle with finishing ahead of fifth-ranked Oklahoma.

The Longhorns beat the Sooners in the regular season and thought they deserved OU’s spot in both the Big 12 and national championship games.

The Utes from the Mountain West Conference swept through their regular season, while Florida and Alabama from the SEC, Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12 and Southern California from the Pac-10, jockeyed for position in the title chase.

The Mountain West does not have an automatic bid to the BCS, but the Utes earned their way in.

Utah was seventh in the final regular-season poll, but that perfect record looked much more impressive after the Utes beat Alabama 31-17 in the Sugar Bowl last week.

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