Army is ranked for the first time since 1996, moving into The Associated Press college football poll at No. 23 on Sunday as it begins preparations to face rival Navy on Dec. 8.
The Black Knights (9-2) have been edging toward the Top 25 in recent weeks, and they finally broke through. The rankings were mostly unchanged after a weekend with few big games or surprising results.
Led by unanimous No. 1 Alabama, the top six stayed the same as last week. Clemson was No. 2, followed by Notre Dame, Michigan, Georgia and Oklahoma.
Washington State moved up a spot to No. 7 and UCF jumped three spots to No. 8, season highs for both schools. LSU tied Central Florida at No. 8 and Ohio State was 10th.
Also debuting in the Top 25 this season was Pittsburgh at No. 24.
Army is in rarefied air and coach Jeff Monken is impressed.
Army being ranked has been a rarity since the early 1960s. From 1963-2017, there have been only two seasons in which the Black Knights appeared in the AP Top 25. In 1985, Army was No. 19 for one week on its way to a 9-3 season. In 1996, Army went 10-2 and was ranked in four of the final five polls of the season. The Cadets finished 25th that season.
Army managed just one winning record from 1997-2015. But under coach Jeff Monken, who took over in 2014, Army has had three straight winning seasons. The Black Knights head into the Navy game looking for a third straight victory against the Midshipmen and a second consecutive 10-win season.
The Black Knights are on a seven-game winning streak since losing in overtime at Oklahoma on Sept. 22.
After battling through a 2-10 season as a freshman, Jordan Asberry knows the depth of where the Army football program was when coach Jeff Monken took over in 2014.
Army and Pitt became the 52nd and 53rd teams to be ranked this season, setting a record for the most ranked teams since the poll expanded to 25 in 1989. The previous high was 51 teams ranked in 2008.
The Panthers, who were 3-4 and 0-3 vs. ranked teams on Oct. 7, are ranked for the first time since Dec. 4, 2016. They have won four straight to capture the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division and earn a trip to the league championship game for the first time.
No. 19 Syracuse and No. 25 Iowa State dropped seven spots after lopsided losses to other ranked teams on Saturday. No. 12 West Virginia fell five spots out of the top 10 after losing at Oklahoma State .
— Cincinnati dropped out of the ranking after being soundly beaten by UCF.
— Boston College fell out of the Top 25 after losing at Florida State.
SEC — 6 teams (1, 5, 8t, 13, 17, 22).
Big Ten — 4 (4, 10, 15, 20).
Big 12 — 4 (6, 11, 12, 25).
ACC — 3 (2, 19, 24).
Pac-12 — 3 (7, 16, 18).
Independent — 2 (3, 23).
Mountain West — 2 (14, 21).
American — 1 (8t).
RANKED vs. RANKED
No. 6 Oklahoma at No. 12 West Virginia, Friday. The winner makes the Big 12 championship game. Maybe the loser, too.
No. 16 Washington at No. 7 Washington State, Friday. Apple Cup winner wins the Pac-12 North.
No. 4 Michigan at No. 10 Ohio State. The Big Ten East goes to the winner.
No. 14 Utah State at No. 21 Boise State. The winner captures the Mountain West’s Mountain Division.