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Florida State starts No. 6 in preseason ranking

Florida State, quarterbacked by EJ Manuel, has its highest Associated Press preseason ranking since 2004.

Associated Press

Florida State, quarterbacked by EJ Manuel, has its highest Associated Press preseason ranking since 2004.

Florida State is ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press media preseason poll released Saturday.

It's one spot lower than in the coaches' poll but the highest the Seminoles have been ranked in the preseason poll since No. 5 in 2004. After going 9-3, they ended the season ranked 15th.

"As a team we don't pay attention to that," FSU senior safety Terrance Parks said. "We try to look past it and focus on the main goal. All of that is good, but when the season kicks off, we have to go out there and take care of business. That's our main focus."

At No. 22, Florida begins outside of the Top 10 for only the third time since 1991. It also is the lowest since beginning the season No. 11 in 2003.

Since 1990, the Gators have been unranked just twice (1990 and 2003) but were ranked in the Top 10 during that span 18 times.

For first-year coach Will Muschamp, none of that matters — at least right now.

"I could care less about the poll," Muschamp said.

Oklahoma begins the season ranked No. 1 in the AP poll for the 10th time, more than any program in the country. The defending Big 12 champions received 36 of 60 first-place votes and 1,464 points.

Auburn, last season's national champion, will start the season No. 23, one spot behind where it began in 2010.

If the rankings are any indication, the national title race could be a scramble.

No. 2 Alabama, one of a record eight SEC teams in the poll, wasn't far behind Oklahoma, receiving 17 first-place votes and 1,439 points.

No. 3 Oregon received four first-place votes. No. 4 LSU received one and No. 5 Boise State two. Heisman Trophy favorite Andrew Luck and Stanford are No. 7.

Rounding out the top 10 are two of Oklahoma's Big 12 rivals, Texas A&M (No. 8) and Oklahoma State (No. 9), and Nebraska (No. 10), in its first season in the Big Ten after leaving the Big 12.

No. 16 Notre Dame, which opens the season against USF, is ranked for the first time since early November 2009.

As for Oklahoma, no matter where it lands in the preseason, it always expects to make a run at a national championship. It hasn't won it all, however, since 2000.

That's when coach Bob Stoops, in his second season in Norman, led it to its seventh national title. Since then, Oklahoma has lost three BCS championship games.

The Sooners have won the national title four times when they were preseason No. 1 (1956, 1974, 1975 and 1985). The last time they started No. 1 was 2003. That season, they lost the BCS championship game to LSU.

"We're very matter of fact," said Stoops, whose team travels to FSU on Sept. 17. "All we think about is doing the work.

"We're also very aware we're not much different than about 12, 15 other teams that'll be competing for it that have legitimate chances to win it. What are we going to do differently to separate ourselves?"

Having the combination of quarterback Landry Jones and receiver Ryan Broyles is a good place to start.

Jones passed for 4,718 yards and 38 touchdowns last season, his second as a starter, and Broyles was his favorite target. The senior had 131 catches for 1,622 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Jones was forced into a starting role two years ago as a redshirt freshman when Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford went down with a shoulder injury. That was a tough season for the Sooners, who started ranked third but finished it 8-5.

Bradford was one of several key players Oklahoma lost to injury that season, and Jones wasn't the only underclassman who played a bigger role than expected.

"Now two years from that, they have benefited from the maturity and the experience gained from being on the field at an early age," Stoops said. "Our (offensive) line was young, and now two years later, they've got experience and some maturity to them. Same with Landry Jones."

The SEC has won five straight BCS title games and has plenty of candidates to make it six.

"We want to come out and win a national championship, to be undefeated," Alabama safety Mark Barron said. "Every time we step out on the field, one of our motivating factors is to be special."

South Carolina (No. 12), Arkansas (No. 15), Georgia (No. 19), Mississippi State (No. 20) and Florida give the SEC more teams in the preseason poll than any previous conference.

The Big Ten placed four teams with Wisconsin (No. 11), Michigan State (No. 17) and Ohio St. (No. 18) joining Nebraska.

With No. 21 Missouri, the Big 12 had four teams, too. The Pac-12 had three teams with No. 25 Southern Cal joining Oregon and Stanford.

The ACC placed two teams (FSU and No. 13 Virginia Tech) as did the Mountain West (Boise State and No. 14 TCU). The Big East, which finished last season with no ranked teams, has one in the preseason poll, No. 24 West Virginia.

Notable by its absence is Texas. Coming off a 5-7 season, the Longhorns are missing from the preseason Top 25 for the first time since 1998.

Times staff writer Antonya English contributed to this report, which used information from Times wires.

.fast facts

Associated Press Top 25

First-place votes in parentheses with 2010 record, points (25 for a first-place vote through one for a 25th-place vote) and 2010 final ranking:

Rec.Pts. Pv.

1. Oklahoma (36) 12-2 1,464 6

2. Alabama (17) 10-3 1,439 10

3. Oregon (4) 12-1 1,330 3

4. LSU (1) 11-2 1,286 8

5. Boise St. (2) 12-1 1,200 9

6. Florida St. 10-4 1,168 17

7. Stanford 12-1 1,091 4

8. Texas A&M 9-4 965 19

9. Oklahoma St. 11-2 955 13

10. Nebraska 10-4 910 20

11. Wisconsin 11-2 900 7

12. South Carolina 9-5 848 22

13. Virginia Tech 11-3 821 16

14. TCU 13-0 690 2

15. Arkansas 10-3 686 12

16. Notre Dame 8-5 530 NR

17. Michigan St. 11-2 519 14

18. Ohio St. 12-1 443 5

19. Georgia 6-7 369 NR

20. Mississippi St. 9-4 361 15

21. Missouri 10-3 258 18

22. Florida 8-5 228 NR

23. Auburn 14-0 219 1

24. West Virginia 9-4 207 NR

25. Southern Cal 8-5 160 NR

Others receiving votes: Texas 114, Penn St. 75, Arizona St. 67, Miami 32, Utah 25, Southern Miss 20, Iowa 19, BYU 15, N.C. State 15, Air Force 14, Houston 13, Pitt 9, Michigan 7, Tennessee 5, UCF 5, Hawaii 4, Northern Illinois 4, Tulsa 3, Arizona 2, Maryland 2, Nevada 1, Northwestern 1, Washington 1.

Greg Auman's ballot

The Times' Greg Auman is a voter in Associated Press poll this season. His ballot with teams' rank in the AP and coaches' poll:

AP Coaches

1. Oklahoma 11

2. Alabama 22

3. Wisconsin 1110

4. Boise State 57

5. Oregon 33

6. LSU 44

7. Stanford 76

8. Florida State 65

9. Oklahoma State 98

10. Virginia Tech 1313

11. South Carolina 1212

12. Texas A&M 89

13. TCU 1415

14. Mississippi State 2020

15. Nebraska 1011

16. Arkansas 1514

17. Notre Dame 1618

18. Michigan State 1717

19. Missouri 2121

20. Southern Cal 25—

21. West Virginia 24—

22. Penn State—25

23. Utah——

24. Texas—24

25. Hawaii——

Follow his votes throughout the season at

Florida State starts No. 6 in preseason ranking 08/20/11 [Last modified: Saturday, August 20, 2011 11:19pm]
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