McLean, Va. -- Despite having to replace nine starters on defense, Ohio State on Friday was named the No. 1 team in the USA Today preseason college football poll.
Coming off a 10-2 record and a Fiesta Bowl victory over Notre
Dame, the Buckeyes received 28 of 63 first-place votes and 1,487
points from Division I-A coaches.
Ohio State has to overhaul its defense with the graduation of
several stars, including the entire starting linebacking trio of
A.J. Hawk, Bobby Carpenter and Anthony Schlegel. But the
Buckeyes have talented players waiting in the wings, and they
return nearly all of their key players on offense, including
quarterback Troy Smith and wide receiver and return specialist
Ted Ginn Jr., both Heisman Trophy candidates.
Defending national champion Texas (13-0) is second after
receiving 11 first-place votes and 1,378 points. But the
Longhorns, who won a championship for the ages with a 41-38
triumph over Southern California in the Rose Bowl, have to
replace all-everything quarterback Vince Young, who left after
his junior season and was drafted third by the Tennessee Titans.
Notre Dame (9-3) and USC (12-1) are tied for third with 1,348
points apiece. The Fighting Irish are entering their second
season under coach Charlie Weis, while the Trojans begin life
without quarterback Matt Leinart and running back Reggie Bush,
the last two Heisman winners. Notre Dame received nine
first-place votes and USC one.
Oklahoma (8-4) is fifth with 1,320 points. The Sooners had the
second-most first-place votes -- 13 -- but those doubtlessly came
in before the news Wednesday that coach Bob Stoops permanently
dismissed starting quarterback Rhett Bomar and offensive lineman
J.D. Quinn from the team for being paid far in excess of hours
worked at a local car dealership.
Auburn (9-3), which received the remaining first-place vote, is
sixth, while West Virginia (11-1), Florida (9-3), Louisiana
State (11-2) and Florida State (8-5) complete the top 10.
Miami (9-3) is 11th, followed by California (8-4), Louisville
(9-3), Georgia (10-3), Michigan (7-5), Virginia Tech (11-2),
Iowa (7-5), Clemson (8-4), Penn State (11-1) and Oregon (10-2).
TCU (11-1), Nebraska (8-4), Tennessee (5-6), Alabama (10-2) and
Texas Tech (9-3) complete the poll.