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Florida, K-State, Notre Dame move up in AP poll

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Florida, K-State, Notre Dame move up in AP poll

Breaking down the AP college football poll after Week 7 of the regular season.

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MAKING A STATEMENT

Don't get comfortable, Florida. Same goes for you, Kansas State. Notre Dame, too.

For the second straight week, multiple top-five teams in The Associated Press football poll lost and the rankings got a shake-up behind No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Oregon.

South Carolina and West Virginia were the big losers this week, and the Gators, Wildcats and Fighting Irish were the beneficiaries.

Florida moved up a spot to No. 3 on Sunday after beating Vanderbilt 31-17. No. 4 Kansas State (which defeated Iowa State 27-21) and No. 5 Notre Dame (which beat Stanford 20-13 in overtime) each moved up two spots. All three of them have big challenges directly ahead.

Alabama continued to roll along, routing Missouri 42-10, and Oregon had an even easier week. The Ducks were off. The Crimson Tide is a unanimous No. 1 for the third straight week.

The first BCS standings were released Sunday night and Alabama and Florida were in the top two spots, followed by Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame.

Both are on the road this week - Alabama at Tennessee and Oregon at Arizona State on Thursday night - and there have been more than enough reminders recently that there are no sure things away from home.

South Carolina was handed its first loss at LSU, a 23-21 setback that dropped the Gamecocks to No. 9.

``That was Death Valley,'' Tigers coach Les Miles said triumphantly afterward. ``That was the place where opponents' dreams come to die - and it was spectacular.''

The Gamecocks' next stop is Gainesville, Fla. The Gators are unbeaten and have their best ranking since the end of the 2009 season, Tim Tebow's last playing at the Swamp.

South Carolina-Florida could very well determine who wins the SEC East.

Kansas State takes its best ranking since 2000 to Morgantown, W.Va., where the Mountaineers will be looking to bounce back from a startling 49-14 loss at Texas Tech. Kansas State is the only unbeaten team left in the Big 12, and Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein seems to have taken the Heisman Trophy front-runner status from West Virginia's Geno Smith.

As for Notre Dame, the Irish are at home to face BYU (4-3), before a road trip to No. 10 Oklahoma on Oct. 27.

A third straight week of shuffling at the top of the media poll would be no surprise.

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MOVING UP

For all of LSU's offensive issues during the first half of the season, the Tigers are back where they need to be, primed to pounce in the national title race.

The Tigers moved up three spots to No. 6 in the AP rankings Sunday after beating South Carolina.

LSU's passing game still lacks pop. Zach Mettenberger was 12 for 25 for 148 yards against the Gamecocks, and at some point he'll need to do more. Maybe when LSU visits surprising No. 20 Texas A&M, with fast-rising Heisman contender Johnny Manziel guiding the top-ranked offense in the SEC.

The Tigers can take comfort in the fact that a patchwork offense line and their seemingly limitless stable of talented tailbacks were able to wear down a good South Carolina defense. LSU had 258 yards rushing on 53 carries. And, of course, the Tigers' defense is still nasty.

Alabama comes to Death Valley on Nov. 3, and it could still be a game that decides the SEC West, and maybe a spot - or two - in the BCS title game.

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MOVING DOWN

Lubbock, Texas, is 1,465 miles from Morgantown, W.Va., the longest trip West Virginia signed up for when it joined the Big 12.

It must have felt twice that long heading back home after Texas Tech ripped the Mountaineers.

The loss sent West Virginia tumbling from No. 5 to No. 17 as the Mountaineers couldn't again overcome a porous defense. Only seven teams in major college football are allowing more yards per game than the Mountaineers, who are yielding 496 after the Red Raiders put up 676.

Smith and the offense couldn't even keep it close. The senior quarterback was a pedestrian 29 for 55 for 275 yards with a touchdown pass.

So where does that leave coach Dana Holgorsen's team? Still, very much in contention in the Big 12. A win against Kansas State on Saturday puts the Mountaineers back at the top of the standings. And no doubt Smith will put up Heisman-worthy numbers the rest of the way.

But it's hard to imagine West Virginia being able to avoid another loss or two with so many problems defensively.

Texas Tech moved back into the rankings at No. 18.

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IN AND OUT

The last time Ohio University was ranked, a man had not yet walked on the moon.

The unbeaten Bobcats are back this week, coming in at No. 25. Ohio finished the 1968 season ranked No. 20, back in the days when the ranking only went to 20.

The Bobcats improved to 7-0 on Saturday with yet another close victory against a Mid-American Conference rival. This time it was a 34-28 win over Akron. Ohio's last three victories have been by a combined 16 points, none by more than seven, and they've come against some of the conference's weakest teams (UMass, Buffalo and Akron).

Former Nebraska coach Frank Solich is in his eighth season in Athens, where he has gone 57-40 (39-20 in conference) but has yet to lead the Bobcats to a MAC title. An unbeaten season could put Ohio in position to become the first team from the MAC to reach the BCS.

Ohio moved in as another high-scoring potential BCS buster fell out. Louisiana Tech's 59-57 loss at Shreveport dropped the Bulldogs out of the rankings and probably ruined any hopes for a BCS bid, but they are heading into the soft part of their schedule. Don't be surprised if La Tech gets back in the rankings soon - and stays there.

Texas also fell out after a 63-21 loss to Oklahoma that felt like something more than just an embarrassment for the Longhorns.

Mack Brown has been at Texas for 15 seasons. He's won a national championship, played for another and had the Longhorns among the elite programs in the country. There have been a couple of rough patches, especially against Oklahoma, that led to grumbling among the faithful about whether Brown could win the big game. But Brown was always safe.

Over the last three seasons, Texas is 17-14 overall and 7-13 in the Big 12. Oklahoma has won the last two Red River Rivalry games by a combined 118-38. Those rumors about Brown's job status, which mostly got laughed off last season, might become more serious this year.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

Ohio State is No. 7 and Cincinnati is No. 21, giving the state of Ohio three ranked teams for the first time since the final AP poll of the 2003 season.

That season Ohio State finished No. 4; Miami, Ohio, with Ben Roethlisberger, was No. 10; and Bowling Green finished 23rd.

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ODDS & ENDS

A few weeks after West Virginia and Baylor played the highest-scoring game ever between ranked teams (133 points), Texas A&M and Louisiana Tech put up the second highest-scoring game between ranked teams (116 points). ... Ohio State's last two games have both had 101 combined total points.

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Wizards' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

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Associated Press

Wizards' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

The Washington Wizards have an opening on their coaching staff, as assistant Sidney Lowe has left the team to join the Detroit Pistons.

Lowe, according to ESPN, will be the top assistant on new Pistons coach Dwane Casey's staff. 

Lowe spent two seasons under head coach Scott Brooks in Washington. A D.C. native, Lowe starred at DeMatha High School before playing at NC State and then in the NBA.

Lowe was the head coach at his alma mater for five years from 2006 through 2011, but has otherwise been an NBA lifer. He served as head coach of the Timberwolves in 1993-94 and head coach of the Grizzlies from 2000 to 2002.

The Wizards have several coaching hires to make now. They have a new G-League team set to take the court in the fall and will need to hire a staff sometime this summer. 

With Lowe gone, they could choose to promote from within or go outside the organization.

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Nationals look to halt red hot Tampa Bay Rays in 2-game series at Tropicana Field

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USA TODAY Sports

Nationals look to halt red hot Tampa Bay Rays in 2-game series at Tropicana Field

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays, routinely using relievers as starters to deal with a rash of injuries, are pitching their way to victories.

The Rays (37-40) go into a two-game interleague series against the Washington Nationals with the momentum of a three-game sweep of the American League East-leading Yankees. New York hadn't lost three games in a row at any point all season, but the Rays pulled it off, capped with a 7-6 win in 12 innings on Sunday at Tropicana Field.

"That's the best team in the league right now, them and the Astros ... I think coming home from that we had confidence and it all carried over into that series," said Rays rookie first baseman Jake Bauers, who won the game in the 12th inning.

Since beginning their experimental use of relievers as "openers" to start games, the Rays have a 3.07 ERA, and entering Sunday's game, that edged the Yankees for the best ERA in baseball since May 19. They've won five of seven games to again challenge .500, and Sunday's walkoff home run by Bauers was their second this season, after totaling one in three seasons from 2015 to 2017.

The Nationals (41-35) had gone 3-9 in their last 12 games before Sunday night's rain-delayed game against the Phillies, dropping into third place in the National League East. They'll send out Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.08 ERA), who has no wins in his last four starts and his ERA has risen from a sterling 2.10 to 3.08.

Gonzalez lasted only four innings in his last outing, giving up five hits and two runs against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday. For his career against the Rays, he's 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA, though he's only faced Tampa Bay once since 2012. That was a rough 2015 start at Tropicana Field, lasting 3 1/3 innings and giving up five earned runs on eight hits, walking more batters than he struck out. For his career at Tropicana, he has an 11.25 ERA.

The Rays will have an actual starter on the mound in Blake Snell (9-4, 2.48), who is in line for an All-Star appearance after the first three months of his season. He has just one loss in his last seven starts, and while he has never faced the Nationals, he has generally fared well in interleague play, going 3-2 with a 2.33 ERA in eight career starts.

Tampa Bay, hoping to build on its current momentum, has a tough week ahead, with two games against Washington, then another four against Houston to close out the homestand.

Washington goes from St. Petersburg to a weekend four-game series at the Philadelphia Phillies before returning home for a week.

The Rays got a head start with a Sunday afternoon game and the Nationals saw their prime-time game delayed by rain, keeping them on the field beyond midnight and still needing to fly to Florida for the two-game stopover.

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