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Tide rolls to No. 1 in AP poll for record 9th time

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) -- Alabama is No. 1 at being No. 1.

The Crimson Tide (13-1) was voted national champion by The Associated Press for the ninth time, more than any other program in college football, after routing Notre Dame 42-14 on Monday night.

Notre Dame, No. 1 coming into the BCS championship, dropped to No. 4.

The Tide entered the title game with as many AP titles as the Fighting Irish, and emphatically broke the tie for first. It's Alabama's second straight title and third in four years. The only other team to win three AP titles in four seasons was Notre Dame from 1946-49.

"It won't sink in until everything settles down," Alabama senior linebacker Nico Johnson said. "To play for three national championships in my career ... that's special."

Alabama finished No. 1 five times under Paul "Bear" Bryant during his 25 years as coach, and Gene Stalling coached to the Crimson Tide to another championship in 1992.

Saban is now more than halfway to matching the Bear in six seasons as Alabama coach.

The Tide received all 59 of the first-place votes in the final media poll of the season, and will be a candidate to start next season No. 1. This season Alabama started second, was ranked No. 1 for 10 weeks before losing to Texas A&M in November and falling to fourth. The Tide quickly moved back to No. 2 and for the second straight season beat No. 1 in the BCS title game to finish on top.

Oregon (12-1) finished second, matching its best final ranking from 2001. Ohio State (12-0), the only undefeated team in major college football but banned from the postseason because of NCAA sanctions, was third. Georgia and Texas A&M tied for fifth to cap another banner season for the Southeastern Conference.

Alabama is the seventh straight SEC team to finish No. 1 and the toughest conference in college football also became the first league to have five of top 10 teams in the final rankings.

South Carolina was No. 8 and Florida was ninth.

Texas A&M, in its first season in the SEC, finished with its best final AP rankings since 1956.

The SEC also matched a record with seven teams in the final Top 25. LSU was 14th and Vanderbilt was 23rd. The SEC and Big Ten both finished with seven teams in the final rankings of the 1999 season.

Stanford was seventh and Florida State was 10th.

The Seminoles' ACC rival, Clemson, was 11th, followed by Kansas State and Louisville.

After LSU, was Oklahoma at No. 15. Utah State is the highest ranked team from a conference without a BCS automatic qualifying bid. The Aggies won the Western Athletic Conference in its last season as a football league.

Northwestern was 17th, Boise State was No. 18, Texas was 19th and Oregon State 20th.

The final five were San Jose State, another WAC team, Northern Illinois from the Mid-American Conference, Vandy, Michigan and Nebraska.

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