Tennessee is still smokin’.
The Tennessee Volunteers rose to No. 3 in the Associated Press poll on Sunday from No. 6 after a watershed, mountain scaling, 52-49 victory over No. 3 Alabama on Saturday afternoon at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. The Vols were No. 4 in the USA TODAY coaches’ poll.
Tennessee (6-0) received 15 first place votes behind No. 1 Georiga with 31 and No. 2 Ohio State with 17. The Vols have not been ranked this high since a No. 3 ranking entering the 2005 season. A year later was its last win over Alabama before Saturday night. Tennessee has not been ranked this high this late in a season since reaching the top 10 in 2001.
“Man, Rocky Top! This is college football at its absolute best,” Tennessee coach Josh Heupel told CBS moments after the win over Alabama on Chase McGrath’s 40-yard field goal as time expired and the field was rushed with masses of orange-clad humanity.
“Our team competed 60 minutes. These fans – phenomenal,” Heupel said. “What an environment, man! Hey, it’s about this team. It’s for our former players, our fans. We know what this means. I’m lighting a cigar tonight.”
On cue, Heupel was given a box of cigars with orange and white checkerboard labels.
Alabama (6-1) fell to No. 6. Michigan was at No. 4 and Clemson No. 5. Ole Miss jumped two spots to No. 7, followed by No. 8 TCU, No. 9 UCLA and No. 10 Oregon.
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The second 10 had No. 11 Oklahoma State, USC at No. 12 after falloing seven spots following a 43-42 loss to Utah, No. 13 Wake Forest, No. 14 Syracuse, No. 15 Utah, No. 16 Penn State, No. 17 Kansas State, No. 18 Illinois, No. 19 Kentucky after beating Mississippi State, and No. 20 Texas.
Cincinnati was at No. 21, followed by No. 22 North Carolina, No. 23, North Carolina State, No. 24 Mississippi State and No. 25 Tulane (6-1), which reached its first top 25 poll since 1998.
LSU received the second most votes of the non-ranked with 87 behind Purdue’s 95. The Tigers won at Florida, 45-35, Saturday night. The Gators received no votes.