The Seminoles will start the season No. 1 for the sixth time -- the first since 1999 when they became the first team to hold the top spot for the entire season.
Florida State received 57 of 60 first-place votes Sunday from the media panel. No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 Oklahoma each received one first-place vote. Ohio State is No. 5 and Auburn is No. 6.
Winston, the Heisman Trophy winner last season as a redshirt freshman, led Florida State to a 34-31 victory against Auburn in the last BCS national championship game.
This season the Bowl Championship Series is being replaced by the College Football Playoff. A selection committee will pick the top four teams in the country for two national semifinals.
The Southeastern Conference matched its own record for most teams in the preseason poll from one conference with eight. The Pac-12 is next with six, the best showing for that conference.
The AP preseason poll started in 1950 and since then 10 preseason No. 1 teams have gone on to finish the season ranked No. 1, including Florida State twice (1993 and '99).