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Alabama leads unchanged playoff rankings

(AP Photo/AL.com, Vasha Hunt)

(AP) -- Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Mississippi State remained the top four teams in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday heading into a weekend when just about all the contenders are facing challenging rivals.

TCU was fifth, Ohio State was sixth and Baylor seventh. The only team in the top eight to change was UCLA, which slipped into the eighth spot.

For the first time, teams from the so-called Group of Five conferences made the top 25. Boise State moved in the rankings at No. 23 and unbeaten Marshall is 24th. The highest ranked team from outside the Big Five conferences is guaranteed one spot in the four New Year's Bowls affiliated with the playoff but not hosting semifinals.

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Gurley has successful knee surgery

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) Georgia says tailback Todd Gurley has had successful surgery to reconstruct the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Georgia director of sports medicine Ron Courson says Gurley started rehabilitation on Wednesday following Tuesday's surgery.

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Virginia AD announces London will return

(AP) -- Mike London will return as Virginia's football coach next season.

Athletic director Craig Littlepage made the announcement Wednesday, citing improvement in the Cavaliers' performance on the field and success in recruiting as key factors in the decision. London has two years remaining on his contract.

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Tide's Kiffin among Broyles nominees

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) The offensive coordinator for second-ranked Alabama and the defensive coordinator for an Arkansas team that has shut out two ranked teams in its last two games are among the nominees for the Broyles Award given each year to the top assistant coach in college football.

Alabama's Lane Kiffin and the Razorbacks' Robb Smith, whose defensive unit shut out LSU and Ole Miss in the past two weeks, are among the 40 nominees.

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Portland State fires coach Burton

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Portland State has fired coach Nigel Burton after a 3-9 record this season.

The Big Sky Conference's Vikings are 21-36 in five years with Burton at the helm. Interim athletic director Valerie Cleary thanked Burton but said it was time for a "fresh start."

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Auburn sacks leader Lambert out for year

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Auburn defensive lineman DaVonte Lambert is out for the season after knee surgery.

Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said that Lambert had surgery Tuesday. He says losing Lambert for Saturday's game with No. 2 Alabama is "a big factor."

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Stanford star Montgomery out vs. UCLA

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) The challenge for Stanford's struggling offense just got a little more difficult this week.

The Cardinal will be without top playmaker Ty Montgomery for the regular-season finale at No. 9 UCLA on Friday. Cardinal coach David Shaw said Montgomery will sit out with a right shoulder injury but is hopeful to return for the team's bowl game.

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Buckeyes' Spence permanently ineligible

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Ohio State defensive end Noah Spence's appeal of his suspension after failing a drug test has been denied by the Big Ten and he has been declared permanently ineligible.

In a statement released Tuesday night, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said the university assisted Spence and his family in the appeals process and would continue to help him complete his degree program.

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3 Notre Dame defenders out against USC

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame fans might need a flip card to keep track of who is playing on defense when the Fighting Irish face Southern California on Saturday.

Heck, the coaches might need to keep a list available to know who is still available.

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MEAC suspends 21 for 4th-quarter brawl

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference has suspended 11 players from Norfolk State and 10 from South Carolina State for a sidelines-clearing brawl late in the schools' football game last Saturday.

Conference Commissioner Dennis Thomas said in a statement disciplined players will miss the season-opening contests in 2015. Suspended players were not named. The MEAC said seniors involved who had no eligibility left were not punished.

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