Archive for Sunday, August 17, 2008

Georgia No. 1 in preseason AP poll

August 17, 2008


Keegan's ballot

Journal-World Sports Editor Tom Keegan had a say in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. Here's how he voted:

1. USC

2. Oklahoma

3. Florida

4. Ohio State

5. Georgia

6. Missouri

7. Texas

8. Arizona State

9. West Virginia

10. LSU

11. Kansas

12. Texas Tech

13. Clemson

14. Auburn

15. Tennessee

16. Illinois

17. Wisconsin

18. Boston College

19. Virginia Tech

20. Oregon

21. Michigan

22. Penn State

23. Fresno State

24. BYU

25. South Carolina

— y the time Georgia was done demolishing Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl, it was apparent the Bulldogs were well on their way to being No. 1 - to start the 2008 college football season.

Seeking its first national championship in 28 years, Georgia is on top of the Associated Press preseason Top 25 for the first time.

The Bulldogs received 22 first-place votes and 1,528 points from a panel of 65 media members in the poll released Saturday.

"To have people believing we have one of the best teams in the nation going into this thing, it's exciting for us," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said in a telephone interview with the AP.

"I don't think anything is guaranteed, but we certainly have put ourselves in position where at least the college football world thinks we're pretty good."

Ohio State, coming off a second consecutive loss in the national title game but returning 20 starters, is No. 2. The Buckeyes received 21 first-place votes and 1,506 points.

No. 3 Southern California, which plays Ohio State in Los Angeles on Sept. 13, received 12 first-place votes. No. 4 Oklahoma had four first-place votes and No. 5 Florida received six first-place votes.

Georgia finished last season 11-2 and No. 2 in the country behind Southeastern Conference rival LSU. The Tigers won the national championship in the Superdome in New Orleans on Jan. 7 by beating the Buckeyes.

But a week earlier on that same field the Bulldogs ended their season with a seventh straight victory and sent a message about 2008: "Look out!"

Georgia toyed with high-scoring Hawaii and its Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback Colt Brennan in a 41-10 rout, and one glance at the Bulldogs' depth chart, with all those freshmen and sophomores playing major roles, revealed the Bulldogs would be a force this season. The questions started even as Georgia celebrated its big victory on the confetti-covered turf.

Richt's job since then has been to keep his team from getting too wrapped up in the hype.

"I think it motivates the guys to prepare well, but the big thing is: If you think about a championship way back in January ... that can wear you down," Richt said. "It's our responsibility as coaches to help these guys break it down to one day at a time, one workout at a times, one practice at a time. Just prepare to be in position for the challenge.

"If we don't work, we'll have no chance."

No. 6 Missouri has its best preseason ranking. The Tigers ended last season No. 4, which was their best showing ever in the final poll.

LSU's Tigers will begin defense of their national championship ranked seventh. West Virginia is eighth, Clemson is ninth and No. 10 Auburn gives the SEC four top-10 teams to start the season.

With Florida and LSU taking the last two national titles, the SEC could become the first to conference to have three different teams win consecutive national titles.

Georgia certainly has the ingredients on the field to make that happen.

"We take it one step at a time. All we can do is focus on the smaller picture," receiver Mohamed Massaquoi said. "We can't let ourselves get overwhelmed. It takes away from playing hard and playing smart."

AP Preseason Football Poll

1. Georgia

2. Ohio St.

3. Southern Cal

4. Oklahoma

5. Florida

6. Missouri

7. LSU

8. West Virginia

9. Clemson

10. Auburn

11. Texas

12. Texas Tech

13. Wisconsin

14. Kansas

15. Arizona St.

16. BYU

17. Virginia Tech

18. Tennessee

19. South Florida

20. Illinois

21. Oregon

22. Penn St.

23. Wake Forest

24. Alabama

25. Pittsburgh

Others receiving votes: South Carolina 84, Fresno St. 83, California 59, Utah 53, Cincinnati 44, Florida St. 41, Michigan 36, Boston College 32, Rutgers 32, Michigan St. 21, Boise St. 17, Arkansas 14, North Carolina 14, Connecticut 10, Tulsa 7, UCLA 6, Oregon St. 5, Mississippi St. 4, Virginia 4, Arizona 3, Nebraska 2, Notre Dame 2, Hawaii 1, Washington 1.


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