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Sooners open at No. 1

Oklahoma tops poll for 10th time

August 21, 2011

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— Being voted preseason No. 1 is a tradition at Oklahoma, and this season is no different.

The Sooners will start out top-ranked in the Associated Press college football poll for the 10th time, more than any program in the country.

The defending Big 12 champions received 36 of 60 first-place votes and 1,464 points in the Top 25 released Saturday.

Auburn, last season’s national champion, will start the season No. 23, one spot behind where it began in 2010.

If the rankings are any indication, the national title race could be a scramble.

No. 2 Alabama, one of a record eight Southeastern Conference teams in the preseason poll, wasn’t far behind OU, receiving 17 first-place votes and 1,439 points.

No. 3 Oregon got four first-place votes, No. 4 LSU received one and No. 5 Boise State got two.

Florida State was No. 6, the Seminoles’ best preseason ranking since starting the 2004 season at No. 5.

Heisman Trophy favorite Andrew Luck and Stanford were No. 7, matching the best preseason ranking for the Cardinal since 1950, the year of the first AP preseason poll.

Rounding out the top 10 are Oklahoma’s Big 12 rivals, Texas A&M (No. 8) and Oklahoma State (No. 9), and Nebraska (No. 10), in its first season in the Big Ten after leaving the Big 12.

No. 16 Notre Dame is ranked for the first time since early November 2009.

As for Oklahoma, no matter where it lands in the preseason, it always expects to make a run at a national championship in the end. It hasn’t won it all, however, since 2000.

That’s when coach Bob Stoops led the Sooners to their seventh AP national title in his second season in Norman. Since then, Oklahoma has lost three BCS championship games.

The Sooners have won the AP national title four times when they were preseason No. 1 (1956, 1974, 1975 and 1985). The last time they started a season top-ranked was 2003. That season, they lost the BCS championship game to LSU.

“We’re very matter of fact,” Stoops said this week. “All we think about is doing the work.

“We’re also very aware we’re not much different than about 12, 15 other teams that’ll be competing for it that have legitimate chances to win it. What are we going to do differently to separate ourselves?”

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