Orange Bowl

Bama tops pre-season Coaches Poll

 
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Louisville grabs the No. 9 spot led by Heisman hopeful Teddy Bridgewater.
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Eddie Timanus | USA TODAY Sports

The votes are in for the preseason USA TODAY Sports football coaches poll, and it probably won't come as a surprise that Alabama will enter the 2013 season exactly where it ended the last two.

The Crimson Tide were the overwhelming choice for the No.1 ranking, topping 58 of 62 ballots.

"We appreciate the recognition, but preseason polls don't determine who the best teams will be," Alabama coach Nick 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."

Indeed, another national championship will be a long battle for the Tide if perceptions of the Southeastern Conference are born out. Alabama heads a group of six ranked SEC squads, all in the top 13. The Big Ten and Pac-12 have five ranked teams each.

History is also not on the side of Alabama. The Tide never have won a national title after being preseason No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll. Their titles under Saban came after preseason rankings of fifth, second and second.

Some other notable facts and figures from this poll:

  • Alabama owns the longest active streak of appearances at 81 consecutive polls, the last 33 in the top five.
  • Alabama's margin of 118 poll points on No. 2 Ohio State is the biggest preseason lead for No. 1 since Southern California's 142-point edge on Texas heading into the 2005 season. That year, those squads held the top spots for the entire campaign and staged an epic BCS finale in the Rose Bowl, where the Longhorns prevailed on Vince Young's end-zone dash.
  • Four teams among the top 10 enter 2013 with their highest preseason ranking since USA TODAY Sports took over administration of the coaches poll in 1991. They are No. 4 Stanford, No. 7 South Carolina, No. 8 Clemson and No. 9 Louisville. At No. 3, Oregon matched its best start.
  • At No. 16, Oklahoma has its lowest preseason ranking since it started at No. 20 in 2000. That year, the Sooners went on to beat Florida State for the BCS title.
  • Virginia Tech, Alabama's opening opponent and tied for sixth in most appearances in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll, is missing from the preseason rankings from the first time since 2004.

Past performance doesn't guarantee future success, as investors — and Saban — like to say, but that still might prove to be good news for the Buckeyes. Ohio State was ineligible for votes in the coaches poll last season while under NCAA sanctions. But three coaches took note of the Buckeyes' 12-0 campaign in 2012 and voted them No. 1. The final No. 1 nod went to Texas A&M, which opens the season ranked sixth, its best start since opening at No. 3 in 1995.

Louisville, the lone ranked team from the newly formed American Athletic Conference, can attribute its lofty expectations to a convincing Sugar Bowl victory against Florida.

"We played very well in that game," Louisville coach Charlie Strong said. "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."

 

RANK TEAM 2012 RECORD POINTS PREVIOUS RANK
1 Alabama (58) 13-1 1545 1
2 Ohio St. (3) 12-0 1427 NR
3 Oregon 12-1 1397 2
4 Stanford 12-2 1262 6
5 Georgia 12-2 1250 4
6 Texas A&M (1) 11-2 1215 5
7 South Carolina 11-2 1136 7
8 Clemson 11-2 1047 9
9 Louisville 11-2 1010 13
10 Florida 11-2 930 10
11 Notre Dame 12-1 872 3
12 Florida St. 12-2 844 8
13 LSU 10-3 797 12
14 Oklahoma St. 8-5 726 NR
15 Texas 9-4 622 18
16 Oklahoma 10-3 620 15
17 Michigan 8-5 589 NR
18 Nebraska 10-4 426 23
19 Boise St. 11-2 420 14
20 TCU 7-6 400 NR
21 UCLA 9-5 202 NR
22 Northwestern 10-3 186 16
23 Wisconsin 8-6 172 NR
24 USC 7-6 165 NR
25 Oregon St. 9-4 135 19
Schools Dropped Out
No. 11 Kansas State (11-2), No. 17 Utah State (11-2), No. 20 Vanderbilt (9-4), No. 21 San Jose State (11-2), No. 22 Cincinnati (10-3), No. 24 Northern Illinois (12-2), No. 25 Tulsa (11-3).
Others Receiving Votes
Kansas State (11-2) 113; Miami (Fla.) 101; Michigan State 89; Baylor 80; Virginia Tech 65; Fresno State 62; Arizona State 51; Mississippi 32; Vanderbilt (9-4) 29; Utah State (11-2) 23; Brigham Young 20; North Carolina 19; Northern Illinois (12-2) 19; Tulsa (11-3) 9; Ohio 8; San Jose State (11-2) 8; Arizona 5; Cincinnati (10-3) 3; East Carolina 3; Kent State 3; Mississippi State 3; Washington 3; Central Florida 2; Arkansas 1; Arkansas State 1; Rutgers 1; Tennessee 1; Toledo 1.

 

 

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