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January 8, 2008
BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -For the first time, a team with two losses ended up No. 1.
LSU climbed to the top of The Associated Press college football poll for the third time this season, winning its second title after beating Ohio State 38-24 in the BCS national championship game Monday night.
"This truly is a great team," LSU coach Les Miles said. "There may be more talented ... but this is the best team."
Right behind the Tigers, who received 60 of 65 first-place votes from the media panel, was another Southeastern Conference team. Georgia was No. 2, making the SEC the first league since the Big 8 in 1971 to have the top two teams in the final AP poll. National champion Nebraska was followed by Oklahoma that season.
Southern California, which started this season ranked No. 1, finished No. 3. Missouri was fourth, its best finish in the AP poll, and Ohio State fell from No. 1 to No. 5 after losing the title game.
Georgia received three first-place votes, USC got one and so did No. 7 Kansas.
The last time four teams received first-place votes in the final AP poll was after the 1977 season, when No. 1 Notre Dame, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Arkansas and No. 4 Texas split up the top votes.
It was the first time a team with two losses finished No. 1. Colorado was 11-1-1 when it won the 1990 AP national title.
After a wild season in which four teams were No. 1 and nine teams were No. 2, LSU shouldn't mind a little dissension. The top six teams in the final poll all had two losses.
"Certainly there will be some argument as to who's the best team," Miles said.
Twice before in this improbable college football season the Tigers reached No. 1, but both times they could only hold it for a couple of weeks.
LSU became No. 1 on Sept. 30 for the first time since 1959, but two weeks later the Tigers lost 43-37 in triple overtime at Kentucky. They worked their way back to the top, replacing Ohio State when the Buckeyes were beaten by Illinois on Nov. 10.
Two weeks later it was Darren McFadden and Arkansas knocking off the Tigers 50-48 in triple overtime. At that point, LSU's national title hopes were bleak at best.
But when Missouri and West Virginia lost their regular-season finales, Ohio State moved to No. 1 with LSU at No. 2 in the polls and in the BCS standings to set up a second straight Big Ten vs. SEC championship game.
Ohio State jumped out to 10-0 lead, but the Tigers, healthy for the first time in a while, played much like the team that started the season as one of the national title favorites.
And now, when it matters most, LSU is No. 1.
The Tigers won their first AP national title since 1958. LSU won the BCS championship in 2003, but had to share the national championship with USC, which finished No. 1 in the AP poll and had been No. 1 in the coaches' poll entering the bowls.
Having their team called co-champions has always burned LSU fans. But there will be no sharing this time. The Tigers managed to come out on top after a season in which having a high ranking often didn't mean much.
Only five of the teams that started the season ranked in the top 10 finished there.
West Virginia finished sixth, followed by the Jayhawks, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech. Boston College and Texas tied for No. 10.
For Kansas, this matches its best final ranking. The Jayhawks also finished seventh in 1968.
No. 12 Tennessee was followed by Florida, BYU and Auburn.
Arizona State was 16th with Cincinnati, Michigan, Hawaii and Illinois rounding out the top 20.
Michigan moved back into the rankings by beating Florida in the Capital One bowl, coach Lloyd Carr's final game.
The final five were Clemson, Texas Tech, Oregon, Wisconsin and Oregon State.