Bama Tops Preseason ESPN/Coaches Poll

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

The USA TODAY coaches poll is out and as expected, two-time defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide sit atop the poll at No. 1 in the country. Nick Saban's squad received 58 of a possible 62 first-place votes.

"We appreciate the recognition, but preseason polls don't determine who the best teams will be," Saban told USA TODAY Sports. "We aren't entitled to anything, and this team's achievements will be based on what they create with the quality of their play and consistency in performance."

Interestingly, while all of Saban's national title teams at Alabama have started the season in the top five, the Crimson Tide have never gone all the way after starting the season No. 1 in the USA TODAY coaches poll. They opened the 2010 campaign No. 1 in the country, topping the poll on 55 of 59 ballets, however the season ended with the rival Auburn Tigers winning the BCS title. Bama finished 10-3 and No. 11 in the coaches poll (No. 10 in the AP top 25) that season.

Joining Alabama in the top 25 are five more SEC programs, who are ranked among the top 13 teams in the country. Georgia is No. 5, Texas A&M No. 6, South Carolina No. 7, Florida No. 10 and LSU No. 13. All six schools finished in the top 12 in last season's final coaches poll.

After the SEC, the Big Ten and the Pac-12 are the most represented conferences in the preseason top 25, with five teams each.

With 1,427 points and three first-place votes, the Ohio State Buckeyes are No. 2 in the country. OSU is 118 points behind Alabama, which is the largest gap between No. 1 and No. 2 to start the season since 2005 (No. 1 USC & No. 2 Texas). The next Big Ten team doesn't check in until the Michigan Wolverines at No. 17. The Maize and Blue are followed by No. 18 Nebraska, No. 22 Northwestern and No. 23 Wisconsin.

The highest-ranked Pac-12 program is No. 3 Oregon, who is just one spot ahead of Stanford. Oregon finished No. 2 and Stanford No. 6 in last season's coaches poll. They are the only Pac-12 schools in the top 20, as UCLA is ranked No. 21, USC No. 24 and Oregon State No. 25.

The ACC has just two ranked schools, No. 8 Clemson and No. 12 Florida State. No. 9 Louisville, who will join the ACC next year, earned their highest preseason ranking since USA TODAY took over running the coaches poll in 1991.

"We played very well in that game," Louisville coach Charlie Strong said (per USA TODAY Sports). "So now everyone is going to expect you to play each game the way you played in that game. ... So it's about us making sure we maintain our focus. And the preparation has to be there, the commitment has to be there."

The Cardinals are the only team representing the American Athletic Conference in its first season. The Big 12 has four teams, including a run of three consecutive teams with Oklahoma State checking in at No. 14, Texas at No. 15 and Oklahoma at No. 16. TCU is No. 20.

Rounding out the top 25 is No. 11 Notre Dame, the only independent team ranked, and No. 19 Boise State out of the Mountain West Conference.

The Preseason Top 25:

1. Alabama (13-1) | Points: 1,545 (58 first-place votes). | Previous ranking: 1.

2. Ohio State (12-0) | Points: 1,427 (3). | Previous ranking: not ranked.

3. Oregon (12-1) | Points: 1,397. | Previous ranking: 2.

4. Stanford (12-2) | Points: 1,262. | Previous ranking: 6.

5. Georgia (12-2) | Points: 1,250. | Previous ranking: 4.

6. Texas A&M (11-2) | Points: 1,215 (1). | Previous ranking: 5.

7. South Carolina (11-2) | Points: 1,136. | Previous ranking: 7.

8. Clemson (11-2) | Points: 1,047. | Previous ranking: 9.

9. Louisville (11-2) | Points: 1,010. | Previous ranking: 13.

10. Florida (11-2) | Points: 930. | Previous ranking: 10.

11. Notre Dame (12-1) | Points: 872. | Previous ranking: 3.

12. Florida State (12-2) | Points: 844. | Previous ranking: 8.

13. LSU (10-3) | Points: 797. | Previous ranking: 12.

14. Oklahoma State (8-5) | Points: 726. | Previous ranking: not ranked.

15. Texas (9-4) | Points: 622. | Previous ranking: 18.

16. Oklahoma (10-3) | Points: 620. | Previous ranking: 15.

17. Michigan (8-5) | Points: 589. | Previous ranking: not ranked.

18. Nebraska (10-4) | Points: 426. | Previous ranking: 23.

19. Boise State (11-2) | Points: 420. | Previous ranking: 14.

20. TCU (7-6) | Points: 400. | Previous ranking: not ranked.

21. UCLA (9-5) | Points: 202. | Previous ranking: not ranked.

22. Northwestern (10-3) | Points: 186. | Previous ranking: 16.

23. Wisconsin (8--6) | Points: 172. | Previous ranking: not ranked.

24. Southern California (7-6) | Points: 165. | Previous ranking: not ranked.

25. Oregon State (9-4) | Points: 135. | Previous ranking: 19.


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