Notre Dame's roller coaster ride in the rankings reached another peak yesterday when the Irish regained the top spot in the Associated Press college football poll.

Georgia Tech's 41-38 victory over previously top-ranked Virginia helped the Irish move from No. 2 to No. 1, a position they held for four weeks before losing to Stanford in early October. Notre Dame fell to eighth after that loss, but four straight victories and a series of upsets involving the other leaders have allowed the Irish to reclaim No. 1. Virginia (7-1) dropped to 11th.

Notre Dame (7-1), which beat Navy, 52-31, last Saturday, received 37 first-place votes and 1,456 points from a nationwide panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Washington (8-1) was second with 13 first-place votes and 1,403 points, and Houston (8-0), the only unbeaten, untied team in Division I-A, was third with 1,337 points.

Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz, who was unhappy with his team's performance against Navy, said the Irish did not deserve to be No. 1.

"We aren't the number one team," he said. "You can't be a great team until you play great on defense, and we haven't put that phase of our game together. I'm not concerned about who's number one now or at any other time other than January 2, and I think there are 10 or 15 teams that have a better chance of getting there than we do."

With games remaining against No. 9 Tennessee, No. 21 Penn State and No. 23 Southern Cal, the Irish may not hold the top spot for long. In fact, the early point spread had Tennessee favored over the Irish by 3 1/2 points Saturday in Knoxville.

Washington was one spot below Houston at No. 7 in last week's poll, but the Huskies moved ahead of the Cougars after routing Arizona, 54-10. Houston, eligible for the Associated Press national championship despite being on probation, beat Texas Christian, 56-35.