Stanford sixth in Top 25 poll, Sooners No. 1

August 4, 2011, 6:52 pm
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August 4, 2011COACHES TOP 25 POLL

(AP) Oklahoma is the preseason No. 1 in the USA Today coaches' poll.

The Sooners received 42 of 59 first-place votes to easily outpoint No. 2 Alabama, which received 13 first-place votes. Oregon, which lost last season's BCS championship game, is third and LSU is fourth.

The Ducks and Tigers will open the season against each other at Cowboys Stadium on Sept. 3 in Arlington, Texas. They each received two first-place votes in the coaches' poll.

Florida State is fifth, followed by Stanford, Boise State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Wisconsin.

Stanford, which had a final 2010 ranking of fourth after winning the Orange Bowl, returns quarterback Andrew Luck, but is without coach Jim Harbaugh, who departed for the 49ers.

Luck, the Heisman Trophy-runner up to Auburn's Cam Newton last year, returns after putting off being the NFL draft's likely No. 1 pick. Several starters are also back from a 12-1 team that finished fourth in the final AP poll, the school's best ranking since the unbeaten 1940 team finished second. Stanford also could be a preseason Top 10 pick and the heavy favorite to challenge Oregon in the North Division for a spot in the inaugural Pac-12 championship game.

The major concern for the Cardinal is the coaching turnover. New coach and former offensive coordinator David Shaw takes over for Jim Harbaugh, who took some of his staff with him to the San Francisco 49ers, leaving Shaw with the burden of making sure Stanford doesn't slip.

"Last year was great, but every team every year has to build its own momentum," Shaw said.

Defending national champion Auburn starts the season ranked 19th in the coaches' poll.

After a tumultuous offseason, Ohio State is ranked 16th. Notre Dame is No. 18.