Saturday, January 4, 2003

AP Poll: OSU unanimous No. 1

The Associated Press

TEMPE, Ariz. - Ohio State won its first national title in 34 years, receiving all 71 first-place votes in the final Associated Press media poll.

The Buckeyes (14-0) finished the season as the nation's only major unbeaten team with a 31-24 double-overtime victory over Miami in the Fiesta Bowl on Friday night.

In the final, post-bowl AP poll, the No. 1 votes from the sports writers and broadcasters gave the Buckeyes 1,775 points.

For the second time in 11 seasons, Miami was denied a repeat one game short of a title. The Hurricanes, who have won five titles in the past 20 seasons, also lost the Sugar Bowl 34-13 to Alabama in 1993.

Miami also had its 34-game winning streak snapped. It was the longest streak since Toledo won 35 in a row from 1969-71 and 13 wins shy of Oklahoma's record set from 1953-57.

Miami was second, followed by Georgia, Southern California, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State, Iowa, Michigan and Washington State. The coaches poll had the same top five teams.

"Our guys know what they're capable of when they all work together," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. "And I was confident they would do the thing they know how to do."

Tressel, in his second year at Ohio State, joined Woody Hayes and Paul Brown as the only coaches to lead the Buckeyes to the national title. Brown did it in 1942 and Hayes won it in 1954 and '68.

The Buckeyes became the first team in major college football history to win 14 games in a season.

Ohio State's four titles are tied with Minnesota and Nebraska for fifth place all-time. Notre Dame leads all schools with eight.

The Buckeyes became just the second Big Ten team to win the national title since 1968, joining the 1997 Michigan team. The Wolverines shared that title with Nebraska, which won the coaches' poll.

There have been eight different champions in the past eight seasons, the longest stretch since 1956-63. Nebraska (1994-95) is the only team to win back-to-back titles since the Crimson Tide did it in 1978-79.

After going 7-5 in Tressel's first year, the Buckeyes ranked 10th in the country. They moved into the top five on Sept. 29 after beating Indiana 45-17.

Ohio State moved into the No. 2 spot on Nov. 10 after No. 1 Oklahoma lost to Texas A&M.

Tenth-ranked Washington State was followed by Alabama, North Carolina State, Maryland, Auburn, Boise State, Penn State, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh and Colorado.

Florida State, Virginia, Texas Christian, Marshall and West Virginia rounded out the poll.

The Big Ten, Big East, Big 12 and ACC all had four teams in the poll. The SEC had three.

Traditional powers Nebraska, Florida and Tennessee all finished out of the rankings.

Buckeyes are the champs with 31-24 victory
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Final Polls: AP: OSU unanimous No. 1 | USA Today/ESPN
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