New York When Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr. and the rest of Ohio State's blazing Buckeyes were last seen on a big stage, they were whizzing around Sun Devil Stadium at warp speed.
That 34-20 victory over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl made a lasting impression. For the first time since 1998, Ohio State is preseason No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25.
"Around here, whether you're high in the polls or not, the expectations are still the same," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said in a telephone interview.
The Buckeyes received 35 of a possible 65 first-place votes from a panel of media members in the poll released Friday. Notre Dame was No. 2, the best preseason showing for the Fighting Irish since they were second in 1994.
Texas will start the defense of its national title as the No. 3 team in the country. Auburn was fourth and West Virginia fifth.
Southern California, preseason No. 1 the past two years, was No. 6. Florida, LSU, California and Oklahoma rounded out the top 10.
Nebraska was ranked 20th, and Texas Tech was rated 25th. Texas A&M and Iowa State were among other teams receiving votes.
No. 11 Florida State and No. 12 Miami will renew their rivalry Labor Day night in the Orange Bowl.
No. 13 was Louisville, followed by Michigan, Georgia, Iowa, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Penn State and Nebraska. The final five were Oregon, TCU, Tennessee, Arizona State and Texas Tech.
Unlike the past two seasons, when Southern Cal started the season as an overwhelming No. 1, the Buckeyes received 54 percent of the first-place votes, and all the teams in the top six received at least three votes for No. 1. Notre Dame had 10 first-place votes, Texas eight, West Virginia six and Auburn and USC three.