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Preseason Coaches Poll Puts SEC At Top

The preseason USA Today Coaches' Poll is out, and the 2 SEC teams that faced off in last year's BCS National Championship Game are at the top, though the order is now reversed, but USC is close.

The coaches and/or their Sports Information Directors put LSU ahead of Alabama, but by only 4 points in the voting, 1,403 to 1,399. And the Crimson Tide had 2 more first place votes, edging the Tigers 20-18.

USC is one of 3 ranked teams from the Pac-12, and 4 from the west, and the Trojans are right there, ranked #3, but only 11 points in back of Alabama. And they split the difference on first place votes, with 19.

Oregon is fifth, behind Oklahoma, and Stanford is the other ranked Pac-12 team, in 18th. Washington is the first team outside the top 25, as the Huskies came up 2 points short of Auburn.

Utah is the only other conference team to get votes. The Utes got 22 points, which puts them at #32.

Boise St. is the only other western team that is ranked. The Broncos come in at #22.

Wisconsin, Oregon St.'s guest on Sept. 8, is ranked #12, and BYU, whom the Beavers will visit on Oct. 13, got 10 points.

In addition to the top 2 spots, the SEC, winners of the last half-dozen BCS National Championships, has 5 teams in the top 10, with Georgia #6, South Carolina #9, and Arkansas #10.

Half the SEC, 7 teams, are in the top 25, with Florida at #23, and 11 of the 14 teams received votes.

Oregon St. coach Mike Riley is one of 6 Pac-12 coaches who participate/(have their SID submit a ballot) in the Coaches' poll, and is joined by USC's Lane Kiffin, California's Jeff Tedford, Washington's Steve Sarkisian, Washington St.'s Mike Leach, and Arizona's Rich Rodriguez.

That's actually slightly above average, as 59 of the 124 FBS coaches are on this year's panel.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com