Utes up to No. 9 in latest polls; Oregon new No. 1

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It may not have been as pretty as some would have liked, but Utah's 30-6 win over Wyoming helped them climb in both Top 25 polls released today.

The Utes (6-0, 3-0 MWC) climbed to No. 9 in both the Associated Press Top 25 and the USA Today coaches polls. They were ranked 10th in the Coaches' and 11th in the AP in last week's polls.

Conference partner TCU, after its impressive 31-3 win over BYU, is now No. 4 in both polls. Air Force, who lost a heartbreaker to San Diego State, fell out of the rankings.

Tonight the first Bowl Championship Series rankings will be released. You can watch the selection show on ESPN at 6:15 p.m. (MT).


Known for its ever-changing, often outrageous uniforms and a point-a-minute offense, Oregon now has a new distinction: No. 1 team in the country.

The Ducks climbed to the top spot for the first time Sunday, moving up one position during an off week after previously top-ranked Ohio State lost 31-18 at Wisconsin on Saturday night.

Boise State also moved up one place to No. 2. Oklahoma jumped three spots to No. 3, passing No. 4 TCU. Auburn moved up two spots to fifth, while the Buckeyes dropped to 11th.

Oregon becomes the 43rd team to hold the No. 1 ranking in the AP media poll, which dates to 1936. The last time a team was No. 1 for the first time was almost 20 years ago to the day, when Virginia rose to No. 1 on Oct. 14, 1990.

Ohio State's loss came a week after then-No. 1 Alabama was beaten by South Carolina. Heisman Trophy contender LaMichael James and Oregon will try to avoid becoming the third straight No. 1 team to lose when it plays at home against UCLA on Thursday night.

The Ducks received 39 first-place votes and 1,471 points. Boise State had 15 first-place votes and TCU (three) and Oklahoma (three) also got votes as the top team in the country.

The first BCS standings, which use the coaches' poll and Harris poll in its calculations, along with computer ratings, were due out Sunday night.

The rest of the AP top 10 was LSU at No. 6, followed by Alabama, Michigan State, Utah and Wisconsin, which jumped eight spots after its big win at Camp Randall Stadium.

Florida was one of four teams falling out of the poll. The Gators dropped their third straight game Saturday — 10-7 to Mississippi State — and are unranked for the first time since the final poll of the 2004 season.

Also dropping out were Air Force, Nevada and Oregon State. Nebraska fell nine spots to No. 14 after losing 20-13 to Texas. The Longhorns moved back in at No.22, along with No. 23 Virginia Tech and No. 25 Miami. Mississippi State is at No. 24, its first ranking since 2001.

That was also a breakout season for Oregon. Under coach Mike Bellotti, quarterback Joey Harrington and the Ducks finished No. 2 and probably should have received a chance to play for the national championship, but were squeezed out by a BCS formula that was later changed.

Bellotti took over the program from Rich Brooks after the Ducks went to the 1995 Rose Bowl and Brooks bolted for the NFL. It was Oregon's first Rose Bowl appearance in almost 40 years, a major happening for a program that had spent decades as an afterthought.

The 1995 Rose Bowl trip was only the 10th bowl appearance in school history.

Under Bellotti and with the help of a multimillion-dollar deal with Nike, which is run by Oregon alum Phil Knight, the program bolstered its facilities and resources, and Oregon became a consistent winner and contender in the Pac-10.

But after that 2001 national title run, the Ducks slipped a bit as Pete Carroll and Southern California dominated the Pac-10. In 2007, it looked as if the Ducks were breaking through again, beating the Trojans and reaching No. 2 with Heisman contender Dennis Dixon running new offensive coordinator Chip Kelly's spread attack.

Dixon blew out his knee on a Thursday night against Arizona, though, and the Ducks went into a tailspin. After the 2008 season, Bellotti stepped down as coach and Kelly was promoted.

Oregon finally unseated USC atop the Pac-10 last season and returned to the Rose Bowl with quarterback Jeremiah Masoli leading the way.

Masoli was kicked off the team after legal problems, but the Ducks haven't slowed down.

Quarterback Darron Thomas has stepped into the role of dual-threat triggerman and James leads the nation in rushing at 169 yards per game. Running a high-speed spread that leaves opponents gasping for air and futilely grasping for ball carriers, the Ducks are averaging 54 points per game, tops in the nation.

And now they're No. 1 in the rankings, too.

Oregon's Pac-10 rival Stanford is No. 12, followed by Iowa, Nebraska and Arizona. Florida State was No. 16, followed by two surprising undefeated Big 12 teams — No. 17 Oklahoma State and No. 18 Missouri, which welcomes the Sooners to town on Saturday.

South Carolina slipped nine spots to No. 19 when it followed up its upset of Alabama by losing to Kentucky 31-28. West Virginia is the lone ranked Big East team at No. 20, and Arkansas dropped nine spots to No. 21 after losing 65-43 to Auburn.

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Robert Jackson sports writer


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