The Sooners received 42 of the 59 first-place votes in the poll to easily grab the No. 1 spot in the rankings, which count for one-third of the Bowl Championship Series formula.
Alabama picked up 13 first-place votes and Oregon, which lost to Auburn in last season's Tostitos BCS National Championship Game, picked up two first-place votes.
LSU, which opens the season against Oregon on Sept. 3 (8 p.m. ET, ABC), is fourth after picking up a pair of first-place votes as well.
Auburn is ranked 19th, the lowest for a defending national champion since USA Today began administering the coaches' poll in 1991. That's four spots higher than the Tigers started last season before their improbable title run.
TCU, which finished second in last year's final poll, starts the year 15th.
Ohio State is 16th despite the departure of quarterback Terrell Pryor and resignation of coach Jim Tressel during a tumultuous offseason.
Notre Dame is No. 18.
The Big East, which has one of the six automatic BCS berths, does not have a team ranked in the preseason Top 25. West Virginia is No. 27.