College football rankings, AP Top 25: Northern Illinois, Kent State climb, Notre Dame stays unanimous No. 1

Kirk Irwin

With the season coming to a close, possible BCS-busting Northern Illinois and Kent State are making late moves in the latest AP Top 25. Notre Dame is No. 1 for a second straight weekend after topping USC.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish again claimed a unanimous No. 1 ranking from the Associated Press after a 22-13 triumph over the USC Trojans on Saturday night. They lead the AP Top 25 for a second straight week in the latest version of the poll released Sunday afternoon.

But most eyes will turn to the lower portion of the week's top 25, as the nation waits to see whether a BCS buster can emerge from a trio of teams vying for a BCS bowl spot. Although the AP Poll does not factor into the BCS formula, it could serve as a hint at what the BCS rankings might look like when released at 8:30 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPN.

The Kent State Golden Flashes lead the charge at No. 18 in this week's AP Poll, followed closely by the No. 19 Northern Illinois Huskies. The two will face off in the MAC Championship Game on Friday, with the winner looking to be in best shape for a possible BCS bid. The Boise State Broncos land at No. 25, but will maintain a much stronger position in Sunday night's BCS rankings.

As they did last weekend, the Alabama Crimson Tide sit at No. 2, seeing a slight bump in support after a dominating victory in their Iron Bowl meeting with the Auburn Tigers.

The Ohio State Buckeyes, now the owners of a complete, perfect 12-0 run through their 2012 season despite bowl ineligibility, land at No. 4. The Georgia Bulldogs again land at No. 3 this weekend, and will take on Alabama in next weekend's SEC Championship Game.

Here's this week's entire AP Poll Top 25:

Rank Team Points
1 Notre Dame (60) 1,500
2 Alabama 1,400
3 Georgia 1,331
4 Ohio State 1,294
5 Florida 1,262
6 Oregon 1,242
7 Kansas State 1,079
8 Stanford 1,061
9 LSU 1,056
10 Texas A&M 1,043
11 South Carolina 916
12 Oklahoma 834
13 Florida State 764
14 Nebraska 704
15 Clemson 667
16 Oregon State 528
17 UCLA 505
18 Kent State 355
19 Northern Illinois 349
20 Utah State 274
21 Michigan 217
22 Northwestern 189
23 Texas 185
24 Oklahoma State 174
25 Boise State 145
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