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Oklahoma Starts Off as No. 1

August 17, 2003|From Associated Press

Oklahoma is back in a familiar spot.

The Sooners will start the season atop the Associated Press poll for a record ninth time, beating out defending national champion Ohio State for the No. 1 ranking in voting released Saturday.

"I appreciate the fact that people view us that way," Sooner Coach Bob Stoops said. "I don't want to undervalue that. We appreciate that people view us as one of those teams that can win it all. But in the end, they don't hand out any trophies in August."

Oklahoma got 32 first-place votes and 1,573 points to Ohio State's 27 firsts and 1,532 points from the 65 sportswriters and broadcasters on the panel.

It's the widest margin in the preseason Top 25 since 1999, when Florida State had 77 more points than Tennessee.

Rounding out the Top 10 are Miami (two first-place votes), Michigan (two), Texas, Auburn (one), Kansas State (one), USC, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh.

Oklahoma was playing about as well as anyone when last season ended, beating Colorado in the Big 12 championship game and Washington State in the Rose Bowl to finish 12-2.

Oklahoma, which won its seventh AP title in 2000, also was the No. 1 preseason pick in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll, released July 31.

The Sooners are the preseason No. 1 for the first time since 1987. They have won the title four times after opening the season on top. While nine of the previous 53 preseason No. 1 teams won the championship, Florida State is the only school to go wire-to-wire, doing it in 1999.

Nebraska is one of the notable omissions this time after being ranked in the preseason the last 33 years. Florida State now has the longest current string at 21 seasons.

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Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel said that star running back Maurice Clarett might not be in good enough shape to play in the season-opening game Aug. 30 against Washington. Clarett is being held out of preseason workouts while he is investigated by an Ohio State committee and the NCAA.

The 10-person university committee is looking into allegations of preferential treatment for Clarett and other athletes in the classroom, while the NCAA is investigating an exaggerated police report that Clarett gave to campus police after his car was burglarized in April.

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Miami linebacker Roger McIntosh had arthroscopic surgery on his knee and will probably sit out the Hurricanes' season opener against Louisiana Tech on Aug. 28.

The 6-foot-3, 231-pound sophomore was expected to start alongside Jonathan Vilma and D.J. Williams. He started six games last season and had 43 tackles, including eight in the loss to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Starting receivers Jason Geathers and Roscoe Parrish will also sit out the game. Geathers will be out for the next 10 days of practice with a hamstring injury while Parrish is out after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

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THE AP PRESEASON

TOP 25 POLL

*--* Rk Team (First-Place Votes) 2002 Rec 1 OKLAHOMA (32) 12-2 2 OHIO STATE (27) 14-0 3 MIAMI (2) 12-1 4 MICHIGAN (2) 10-3 5 TEXAS 11-2 6 AUBURN (1) 9-4 7 KANSAS STATE (1) 11-2 8 USC 11-2 9 VIRGINIA TECH 10-4 10 PITTSBURGH 9-4 11 GEORGIA 13-1 12 TENNESSEE 8-5 13 FLORIDA STATE 9-5 14 LOUISIANA STATE 8-5 15 MARYLAND 11-3 16 NORTH CAROLINA STATE 11-3 17 WASHINGTON 7-6 18 VIRGINIA 9-5 19 PURDUE 7-6 20 NOTRE DAME 10-3 21 WISCONSIN 8-6 22 ARIZONA STATE 8-6 23 COLORADO STATE 10-4 24 OKLAHOMA STATE 8-5 25 TEXAS CHRISTIAN 10-2

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Others receiving votes: Florida 79, Nebraska 68, Oregon State 68, Penn State 56, Texas A&M 40, Alabama 33, Colorado 27, Arkansas 26, Missouri 22, Fresno State 21, Mississippi 20, Minnesota 18, Boise State 10, Oregon 10, Air Force 8, Iowa 8, Miami (Ohio) 5, Southern Miss. 3, Boston College 2, Hawaii 2, Washington State 2, West Virginia 1.

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