Alabama's come-from-behind, 25-18 victory over Auburn cost it the No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press final regular-season college football poll today, Ohio State vaulting into first place in the torrid race with the Crimson Tide and Southern California.
Runner-up Alabama received 29 first-place votes from a nationwide panel of 67 sportswriters and broadcasters to 16 for Ohio State and 19 for Southern California.
But eight voters, dissuaded by Alabama's close call, left the Tide out of their top three choices while the Buckeyes were lower than third on only three ballots and piled up 33 second-place ballots to overcome Alabama's edge in first-place votes.
Ohio State, which was unranked in the preseason ratings, totaled 1,267 points to 1,265 1/2 for Alabama. Southern California was breathing down Alabama's neck with 1,257 points.
Ohio State and Alabama finished the regular season with 11-0 records while USC wound up 10-0-1. Ohio State and USC will meet in the Rose Bowl while Alabama faces sixth-ranked Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.
A week ago, Alabama had 34 first place votes to 12 for Southern California and 13 for Ohio State and led in points 1,193-1,142-1,141.However, the fumbled-plagued Crimson Tide blew a 17-6 second half lead against Auburn and needed a touchdown with 8:17 left to play to nip the Tigers.
In selma, Ala., Coach Bear Bryant said, "No, I'm not upset. It's not going to change our game plan for the Sugar Bowl."