MCLEAN, VA —Georgia, which routed Hawaii in last season’s Sugar Bowl, has been tabbed as the No. 1 team in the USA Today preseason coaches’ poll released Friday.
The Bulldogs ended last season with a seven-game winning streak, including a 41-10 drubbing of Hawaii, which came into the Sugar Bowl as the last remaining unbeaten team in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Georgia may have finished as the hottest team in the country, but early losses to South Carolina and Tennessee cost it a spot in the national championship game.
It marks the first time Georgia has been atop a major poll in the preseason. The Bulldogs’ previous highest preseason ranking was No. 2 in the 1942 Associated Press poll.
“Being number one in the coaches preseason poll does have significance since it’s one-third of the formula to decide who plays in the national championship game,” Georgia coach Mark Richt. “But the postseason poll is the one that is the most important. However, I know the ranking is exciting for Georgia football and hopefully we can do our part to stay in the race.”
Georgia (11-2), which was third in last season’s final poll, collected 22 of 61 first-place votes and 1,438 points from a nationwide panel of coaches - just ahead of Southern California (11-2). The Trojans, who are favored to win a seventh straight Pac-10 Conference title, garnered 14 first-place votes and 1,430 points.
Ohio State (11-2), which has lost in the BCS title game the last two years, begins the season ranked third after also receiving 14 first-place ballots and 1,392 points. Oklahoma (11-3) and Florida (9-4), with returning Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, complete the top five.
In a huge early-season game, Ohio State visits USC on September 13. Georgia and Florida clash on November 1
in their annual game in Jacksonville, Florida.
The Sooners received three first-place votes and the Gators five. The remaining three first-place votes went to defending national champion Louisiana State (12-2), which is sixth in the preseason poll.
Completing the top 10 are Missouri (12-2), West Virginia (11-2), Clemson (9-4) and Texas (10-3). They are followed by Auburn (9-4), Wisconsin (9-4), Kansas (12-1), Texas Tech (9-4), Virginia Tech (11-3), Arizona State (10-3), Brigham Young (11-2), Tennessee (10-4), Illinois (9-4) and Oregon (9-4).
South Florida (9-4) is 21st, followed Penn State (9-4), Wake Forest (9-4), Michigan (9-4) and Fresno State (9-4).