Bama, Oregon, K-State, ND rise to top of AP poll

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Breaking down the AP college football poll after Week 9 of the regular season.

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MAKING A STATEMENT:

Call them the fantastic four. Or maybe the final four in the race for No. 1.

Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame hold the top four spots in The Associated Press college football poll released Sunday.

The Crimson Tide is No. 1 for the ninth straight week and the Ducks are No. 2 for the sixth consecutive week.

The third-ranked Wildcats and fourth-ranked Fighting Irish each moved up a spot after Florida lost 17-9 to Georgia. That dropped the Gators from third to eighth.

The BCS standings came out later Sunday and Alabama was first again, but Kansas State and Notre Dame followed with Oregon fourth.

The Tide, Ducks, Wildcats and Irish will spend the last month of the regular season competing against each other from a far, vying for two spots in the BCS national championship game. All of them could get to Dec. 2, BCS selection day, unbeaten.

The finish line is now in sight, but no peeking.

“It’s tough not to, knowing you’re so close, but man, you just have to focus in on next week, focus in on next game,” K-State wide receiver Chris Harper said after the Wildcats’ 55-24 victory against Texas Tech. “It’s really hard not to look ahead, but the position that we’re in, you can’t do it.”

Alabama and Oregon both face big tests Saturday. Emerging Heisman trophy contender AJ McCarron and the Tide go to Baton Rouge, La., to face No. 5 LSU in a game that could decide the SEC West.

The Pac-12’s game of the year was supposed to be Saturday as well. The Ducks will be at No. 18 Southern California, but the Trojans are coming off their second loss of the season. USC fell 39-36 at Arizona and hasn’t looked much like a team that started the season No. 1.

Still, Matt Barkley and crew figure to provide some resistance to an Oregon team that has yet to enter the fourth quarter of a game with the result in doubt.

Kansas State is home against Big 12 rival Oklahoma State. Notre Dame, coming off a 30-13 victory at Oklahoma, takes on Pittsburgh in South Bend, Ind.

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