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Florida Gators overwhelming preseason No. 1 in Associated Press football media poll

The return of Tim Tebow, left, to run Urban Meyer’s offense helped make the Gators an overwhelming media poll choice.

Associated Press

The return of Tim Tebow, left, to run Urban Meyer’s offense helped make the Gators an overwhelming media poll choice.

GAINESVILLE — This time it is No. 1 by a landslide.

Two weeks after being voted No. 1 in the coaches preseason poll, the Florida football team is No. 1 in the Associated Press media poll released Saturday.

It received 58 of 60 first-place votes, 96.7 percent, becoming the most overwhelming preseason No. 1 choice in the history of the poll, which dates to 1950.

The previous highest percentage was 95.4 for Southern California (62 of 65 first-place votes) in 2007. The Trojans failed to win the national title that season.

UF received 53 of 59 first-place votes from the coaches Aug. 7.

This is the first preseason No. 1 ranking in the AP poll for Florida since 2001 and the third (1994) in school history.

"Humbled," said coach Urban Meyer of the ranking. "And it's a credit to recruiting. That's good players in a program. Everything else is overrated. (The ranking) means nothing. That won't be discussed. I don't want to act like we don't appreciate that. We do, and we're good to go."

No. 2 Texas received the other first-place votes. The remainder of the top 10: Oklahoma, Southern Cal, Alabama, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Mississippi, and Oklahoma State and Penn State, which tied for No. 9.

The only other state team to crack the Top 25 is No. 18 Florida State, which was not in the AP preseason pool last year for the first time since 1982. FSU finished 9-4 and ranked No. 21 in the final 2008 poll.

Miami (40) and USF (3) are in the others-receiving-votes category in this year's poll.

Florida's regular-season schedule includes two ranked SEC foes: LSU (11th) and Georgia (13th).

The Gators' ranking makes UF public enemy No. 1 for opponents, but Meyer said that's not much different from other years. Handling pressure is one of the major topics Meyer's multiple guest speakers have addressed with the team this preseason.

"(Former Notre Dame coach) Lou Holtz hit it real hard," Meyer said. "And with all due respect, since we've been here, we're kind of hunted. I think (former coach Steve) Spurrier started that back in the '90s, the Gators are always the hunted. But this will be maybe a little different."

The Gators are the 20th defending national champion to start the season on top. They will try to become the first team since Southern Cal in 2004 to hold the No. 1 ranking all season. FSU is the only other team to go wire to wire (1999).

Ten preseason No. 1s have won the national title. Only one program since 1950 has won three titles in four years: Nebraska won it all it 1994 and ’95, then earned a split title in ’97.

The AP poll does not figure in the Bowl Championship Series rankings that determine the teams in the national title game.

Senior receiver David Nelson spoke for his teammates when he said they are determined to not let the preseason hype go to their heads: "It's an honor. But we can't allow that to affect us or get overconfident. … There have been a lot of teams that started No. 1 but didn't finish that way. We've just got to keep working hard."

Information from the Associated Press was used in the report.

Florida Gators overwhelming preseason No. 1 in Associated Press football media poll 08/22/09 [Last modified: Sunday, August 23, 2009 6:58am]
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