AP Top 25: No. 2 Alabama closes gap with Clemson; Liberty in

Alabama coach Nick Saban, alongside a law enforcement officer, leads his suited-up team to the field.
Alabama coach Nick Saban leads his team to the field before a game.
(L.G. Patterson / Associated Press)

Clemson remained No. 1 in the Associated Press college football poll on Sunday — but not by much.

Trevor Lawrence’s absence because of COVID-19 and the Tigers’ narrow win over Boston College created a divide among the 62 writers and broadcasters on the voting panel.

Clemson received 33 first-place votes — 19 fewer than last week — and has only a two-point lead over No. 2 Alabama heading into a huge ACC matchup at fourth-ranked Notre Dame this week.


Alabama, which handed Mike Leach his first shutout as a head coach with a 41-0 victory over Mississippi State, got the other 29 first-place votes.

The rest of the top five remained the same, with Ohio State at No. 3, followed by Notre Dame and Georgia.

The unbeaten Liberty Flames, in their third year in the Football Bowl Subdivision, entered the rankings for the first time at No. 25. Penn State is out for the first time since 2016 following consecutive losses.

Voters had differing opinions on how to handle Clemson. Six voters who had Alabama No. 1 on their ballots had Clemson third behind Ohio State.

Lawrence was ruled out of the game against Boston College after testing positive for COVID-19, and coach Dabo Swinney announced that his Heisman Trophy front-runner wouldn’t play against Notre Dame either.

Clemson made up an 18-point deficit in the second half to beat BC 34-28. Five-star freshman D.J. Uiagalelei made his first start and got better as the game went on as Clemson pulled off its largest comeback for a home win in program history.

Alabama made easy work of Mississippi State, and has now scored 35 or more points in 19 straight games, the longest streak in the FBS.

1. Clemson
2. Alabama
3. Ohio State
4. Notre Dame
5. Georgia
6. Cincinnati
7. Texas A&M
8. Florida
9. Brigham Young
10. Wisconsin
11. Miami (Fla.)
12. Oregon
13. Indiana
14. Oklahoma State
15. Coastal Carolina
16. Marshall
17. Iowa State
18. Southern Methodist
19. Oklahoma
20. USC
21. Boise State
22. Texas
23. Michigan
24. Auburn
25. Liberty

Others receiving votes:

Northwestern 106, Louisiana-Lafayette 101, North Carolina 92, Penn State 87, Tulsa 73, Army 57, Kansas State 51, West Virginia 44, Utah 44, Washington 21, Purdue 15, Virginia Tech 11, San Diego State 8, Arizona State 7, Appalachian State 6, Wake Forest 5, Michigan State 4, California 3.