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Nick Saban needed three games to get Alabama back in the Top 25.
The Crimson Tide jumped into The Associated Press poll Sunday at No. 16, its first time in the rankings since the final poll of the 2005 season.
Saban, lured from the Miami Dolphins with a $4 million per year contract, earned his first important win with the Tide on Saturday night. Alabama blew a big lead to Arkansas then responded with a late rally of its own to beat the Razorbacks 41-38 in front of a swooning Bryant-Denny Stadium crowd.
At the top of the poll, No. — Southern California recouped some of the first-place votes it lost to No. 2 LSU in the previous two weeks.
USC received 46 first-place votes, up six from last week, and 1,605 points after a 49-31 victory at Nebraska that was not as close as the final score.
The Tigers continued to impress with a 44-0 victory over Middle Tennessee, their second shutout of the season. LSU received 19 first-place votes and 1,577 points in the latest Top 25.
Florida slipped past Oklahoma into the third spot behind USC and LSU, but the Gators and Sooners are just three points apart (1,437-1,434).
Florida is coming off a 59-20 victory over Tennessee. Oklahoma has outscored its opponents by 158 points during a 3-0 start.
No. 5 West Virginia slipped a spot, California rose two places to No. 6 and Texas dropped a place to No. 7. No. 8 Ohio State moved up two spots and fellow Big Ten teams Wisconsin and Penn State rounded out the first 10.
There were three other new teams in the Top 25 this week along with Alabama. No. 21 Kentucky, No. 23 South Florida and No. 25 Missouri entered the poll for the first time this season.
For the idle South Florida Bulls, this is the first time they've been ranked. They fell just short of making the previous Top 25 after their victory over Auburn.
Kentucky is ranked for the first time since the final 1984 poll after beating rival Louisville 40-34 with a last-minute TD pass by Andre Woodson. The loss dropped Louisville nine spots to No. 18.
Missouri is ranked for the first time since the middle of last season.
Dropping out of the Top 25 were Georgia Tech, which lost 24-10 at home to Boston College, and UCLA, which was stunned 44-6 by a Utah team that had been 0-2. Tennessee and Arkansas also fell out of the rankings.
In Tuscaloosa on Saturday night, the Razorbacks wiped out an early 21-point deficit but couldn't close out the victory. John Parker Wilson hit Matt Caddell with a 4-yard touchdown pass with 8 seconds left to give the Tide the win.
Alabama didn't manage a come-from-behind victory in the fourth quarter during previous coach Mike Shula's four-year stay.
"We always talk about playing 60 minutes," Saban said. "And to score with 8 seconds left, it's an easy way to reinforce a point."
No. 11 Rutgers starts the second 10, followed by South Carolina, Oregon, Boston College and Clemson.
After Alabama, Virginia Tech is 17th and Louisville, Texas AM and Hawaii complete the top 20.
Joining the three new teams in the final five are No. 22 Georgia and No. 24 Nebraska, which fell 10 spots after getting trounced by USC.
Appalachian State, whose victory at Michigan swayed the AP to open the poll to teams from all divisions, received five points in the latest vote. The Mountaineers had 19 points last week.
Saban has Alabama back in AP poll for first time since 2005
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