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Florida atop Associated Press preseason poll

The Gators receive 58 of the 60 first-place votes, the most overwhelming preseason No. 1 in the history of the media poll.

August 23, 2009|Associated Press

NEW YORK — As Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators prepare to make a run at their third national title in the last four seasons, the defending champions have already made some history.

Florida is No. 1 in the Associated Press' preseason top 25 released Saturday, followed by Texas, Oklahoma, USC and Alabama. But the Gators are in a class by themselves, the most overwhelming preseason No. 1 in the history of the media poll.

Florida received 58 of the 60 first-place votes, or 96.7%. Texas got the other first-place votes.

The previous highest percentage of first-place votes for the AP preseason poll, which started in 1950, was 95.4% for USC in 2007. Those Trojans received 62 of 65 first-place votes -- and didn't play for the national title.

Ten preseason No. 1s have won the national championship. If the Gators can become the 11th, they will have put together one of the great runs in college football history. Only one program since 1950 can claim three national championships in four years; Nebraska won it all it 1994 and 1995, then earned a split title in 1997.

With expectations soaring in Gainesville, Fla., Coach Urban Meyer has been on a mission to keep his team's eyes on the small prizes -- to heck with history.

"There's a lot of guys getting patted on the back and being told how good they are," Meyer said in a recent telephone interview. "Their only focus is on survival to the next day and working hard in practice.

"I don't want them to even think about that kind of stuff. Our goal is to get to Atlanta" for the Southeastern Conference championship game.

The rest of the top 10 includes two Big Ten powerhouses (No. 6 Ohio State and No. 9 Penn State) and the defending Atlantic Coast Conference champion (No. 7 Virginia Tech).

No. 8 Mississippi is in the preseason top 10 for the first time since 1970, when the Rebels were ranked fifth.

Oklahoma State is tied with Penn State for No. 9, the Cowboys' highest preseason ranking since No. 16 in 1985.

Florida is preseason No. 1 for the third time (1994 and 2001), and the Gators are the 20th defending national champion to start the season on top.

From the moment Florida wrapped up its 24-14 victory over Oklahoma in the BCS championship game in January, talk of a repeat began.

And when Tebow a few days later announced he would come back for his senior year, there was no doubt the Gators would be the runaway preseason No. 1.

The Gators are one of five SEC teams ranked in the top 25, matching the Big 12 for the most from any conference. Joining Florida, Alabama and Ole Miss are Louisiana State at No. 11 and Georgia at No. 13.

No. 23 Nebraska and No. 25 Kansas are the other Big 12 teams, along with Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

Utah, which finished No. 2 last season and was the only undefeated team in major-college football, is ranked 19th to start this season. But the Utes aren't even the highest-ranked team from the Mountain West Conference.

That distinction belongs to No. 17 Texas Christian, while No. 20 Brigham Young gives the MWC three ranked teams to start the season, as many as the Big Ten and Pac-10 and three more than the Big East, which was shut out.

No. 14 Boise State is the highest-ranked team from a conference that does not automatically qualify for the Bowl Championship Series. The Broncos, the champions of the Western Athletic Conference, play the season's first big game, facing No. 16 Oregon on Sept. 3.

Notre Dame is back in the rankings for the first time since the final poll of the 2006 season. The Fighting Irish are No. 23.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

AP preseason poll

*--* --

TeamRecord Pts. Prv. 1. Florida (58): 13-1 1,498 1 2. Texas (2): 12-1 1,424 4 3. Oklahoma: 12-2 1,370 5 4. USC: 12-1 1,313 3 5. Alabama: 12-2 1,156 6 6. Ohio State: 10-3 1,113 9 7. Virginia Tech: 10-4 1,054 15 8. Mississippi: 9-4 1,047 14 9. Oklahoma State: 9-4 989 16 9. Penn State.: 11-2 989 8 11. Louisiana State: 8-5 914 -- 12. California: 9-4 746 -- 13. Georgia: 10-3 714 13 14. Boise State: 12-1 659 11 15. Georgia Tech: 9-4 593 22 16. Oregon: 10-3 587 10 17. Texas Christian: 11-2 521 7 18. Florida State: 9-4 307 21 19. Utah: 13-0 289 2 20. Brigham Young: 10-3 267 25 21. North Carolina: 8-5 261 -- 22. Iowa: 9-4 229 20 23. Notre Dame: 7-6 225 -- 24. Nebraska: 9-4 207 -- 25. Kansas: 8-5 134 -- *--*

Others receiving votes: Oregon State 122, Illinois 105, Pittsburgh 103, Michigan State 100, Rutgers 83, Texas Tech 76, West Virginia 57, Cincinnati 44, Clemson 42, Miami 40, East Carolina 30, Tennessee 15, Arizona 13, North Carolina State 10, Boston College 9, Auburn 7, Central Michigan 7, UCLA 7, Northwestern 5, Missouri 3, South Florida 3, Southern Mississippi 3, Vanderbilt 3, South Carolina 2, Arkansas 1, Houston 1, Nevada 1, Troy 1, Tulsa 1.

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