AP Top 25: No. 2 Alabama closes gap with Clemson; Liberty in

Clemson safety Jalyn Phillips (25) celebrates a defensive stop with cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (23) during the second half of an NCAA college football game  Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, in Clemson, S.C. (Josh Morgan/Pool Photo via AP)
Clemson safety Jalyn Phillips (25) celebrates a defensive stop with cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (23) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, in Clemson, S.C. (Josh Morgan/Pool Photo via AP) (USA TODAY NETWORK)

Clemson remained No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll on Sunday, but not by much.

Trevor Lawrence's absence because of COVID-19 and the Tigers' narrow win over Boston College created a divide among the 62 writers and broadcasters on the voting panel.

Clemson received 33 first-place votes — 19 fewer than last week — and has only a two-point lead over No. 2 Alabama heading into a huge ACC matchup at fourth-ranked Notre Dame this week.

Alabama, which handed Mike Leach his first shutout as a head coach with a 41-0 victory over Mississippi State, got the other 29 first-place votes.

The rest of the top five remained the same, with Ohio State at No. 3, followed by Notre Dame and Georgia.

The unbeaten Liberty Flames, in their third year in the Football Bowl Subdivision, entered the rankings for the first time at No. 25. Penn State is out for the first time since 2016 following consecutive losses.

Voters had differing opinions on how to handle Clemson. Six voters who had Alabama No. 1 on their ballots had Clemson third behind Ohio State.

Lawrence was ruled out of the game against Boston College after testing positive for COVID-19, and coach Dabo Swinney announced that his Heisman Trophy front-runner wouldn't play against Notre Dame either.