June 21, 1999 - by
Seminoles Open Season Second in AP

August 16, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) – Ohio State starts the season where it hopes to end up for the first time in 30 years — ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll.
The Buckeyes won their third national championship in 1968 under coach Woody Hayes. And now, a year after watching rival Michigan win its first title in 50 years, the Buckeyes are primed for another championship run under coach John Cooper.


“Being No. 1 is something you shoot for, so we’re certainly not going to apologize for being picked as the best team to start the season,” Cooper said. “The expectation level has always been high here, and it’s a compliment to our program. It’s something we’ll try to live up to.”


Ohio State received 30 first-place votes and 1,668 points from the 70 sports writers and broadcasters on the AP panel, edging No. 2 Florida State by five points. The voting was the second closest in the 48-year history of the AP preseason poll — in 1994, Florida beat out Notre Dame by two points.


The Seminoles received 22 first-place votes and 1,663 points in gaining their 11th straight Top 5 preseason ranking. Florida State ended last season with a 31-14 win over Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.


Florida, with five first-place votes and 1,547 points, is third, followed by No. 4 Nebraska (four first-place votes, 1,534 points) and No. 5 Michigan (four first-place votes, 1,475 points).


Michigan and Nebraska split the 1997 national title, the Wolverines finishing No. 1 in the AP poll, the Cornhuskers No. 1 in the coaches’ poll.


Kansas State, with two first-place votes and 1,335 points, is No. 6, followed by No. 7 UCLA (one first-place vote, 1,331 points), No. 8 Arizona State (two first-place votes, 1,256 points), No. 9 LSU and No. 10 Tennessee.


West Virginia, which plays host to the Buckeyes in the season-opener Sept. 5, is No. 11, followed by No. 12 North Carolina, No. 13 Penn State, No. 14 Texas A&M and No. 15 Colorado State.


Colorado State cracked the preseason Top 25 for the first time, while Kansas State and West Virginia received their highest preseason ranking.


Virginia is No. 16, followed by No. 17 Syracuse, No. 18 Washington, No. 19 Georgia, No. 20 Wisconsin, No. 21 Southern Mississippi, No. 22 Notre Dame, No. 23 Michigan State, No. 24 Arizona and No. 25 Auburn.


This is the lowest preseason ranking for the Irish since 1986 when Notre Dame did not make what was then the Top 20.


Three late-season games will match the top six teams _ Nebraska at Kansas State on Nov. 14 and Michigan at Ohio State and Florida at Florida State on Nov. 21.


The Big Ten and SEC led all conferences with five teams apiece in the preseason Top 25. In the Big Ten, it’s Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan State. The SEC has Florida, LSU, Tennessee, Georgia and Auburn.


In the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ preseason poll, the top 10 is: Ohio State, Florida State, Nebraska, Florida, Michigan, Kansas State, UCLA, LSU, Arizona State and Tennessee.


Ohio State, 10-3 and No. 12 in last season’s final AP poll, opens with Joe Germaine as the full-time quarterback. He has top-notch receivers in David Boston and Dee Miller. Seven starters return on defense, including All-American linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer and defensive backs Damon Moore and Antoine Winfield.


The schedule is favorable, too. After opening at West Virginia, the rest of the Buckeyes’ tough games are at home _ against Penn State (Oct. 3), Michigan State (Nov. 7) and Michigan (Nov. 21). However, Ohio State is 1-8-1 against the Wolverines under Cooper.


“There’s pressure, sure, but not any more than there’s been the past few years,” said Cooper, whose Buckeyes missed out on national title chances twice in the last three years after late-season losses to Michigan. “We were a good team last year, and the nucleus of that team is back.”


This is the sixth time the Buckeyes open as the preseason No. 1 pick. The others were in 1958, 1962, 1969, 1970 and 1980. It also marks the second consecutive year a Big Ten team starts the season at No. 1 — Penn State was the preseason No. 1 in ’97.


Since 1950, eight teams were ranked No. 1 in the preseason and went on to win the national title: Tennessee (1951); Michigan State (1952); Oklahoma (1956, 1974, 1975, 1985); Alabama (1978); and Florida State (1993).


No team has gone wire-to-wire ranked No. 1, but two teams — Nebraska in 1983 and Florida State in 1993 — came close. The ’83 Cornhuskers went 12-0 before losing to Miami 31-30 in the Orange Bowl. The ’93 Seminoles were No. 1 for most of the season, lost to Notre Dame but beat Nebraska in the Orange Bowl to claim the title.


Among top teams from last season who did not make the preseason Top 25 are Washington State — No. 9 in the ’97 final poll — and Purdue, 15th in ’97. Also, Colorado failed to make the preseason Top 25 for the first time in 10 years.


This season, the Bowl Championship Series, formerly the bowl alliance, will match the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 4 based on a new and complex ratings system that involve polls, computer rankings, strength-of-schedule and won-loss record.


The final AP poll will be released Jan. 5.

The Top Twenty Five teams in The Associated Press preseason college football poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, 1997 records, total points based on 25 points for a first place vote through one point for a 25th place vote and ranking in 1997 final poll:


                         Record   Pts  Pv 
 1. Ohio St. (30)        10-3   1,668  12 
 2. FLORIDA STATE (22)   11-1   1,663   3 
 3. Florida (5)          10-2   1,547   4 
 4. Nebraska (4)         13-0   1,534   2 
 5. Michigan (4)         12-0   1,475   1 
 6. Kansas St. (2)       11-1   1,335   8 
 7. UCLA (1)             10-2   1,331   5 
 8. Arizona St. (2)       9-3   1,256  14 
 9. LSU                   9-3   1,237  13 
10. Tennessee            11-2   1,094   7 
11. West Virginia         7-5     985  -- 
12. North Carolina       11-1     864   6 
13. Penn St.              9-3     804  16 
14. Texas A&M             9-4     760  20 
15. Colorado St.         11-2     631  17 
16. Virginia              7-4     620  -- 
17. Syracuse              9-4     608  21 
18. Washington            8-4     494  18 
19. Georgia              10-2     480  10 
20. Wisconsin             8-5     444  -- 
21. Southern Miss.        9-3     341  19 
22. Notre Dame            7-6     291  -- 
23. Michigan St.          7-5     211  -- 
24. Arizona               7-5     208  -- 
25. Auburn               10-3     201  11 

Others receiving votes: Texas 145, Southern Cal 121, Georgia Tech 86, Missouri 72, Colorado 60, Oklahoma St. 31, Purdue 30, Mississippi 24, Mississippi St. 21, Utah 17, Brigham Young 10, Miami 10, Wake Forest 9, Oregon 8, Arkansas 7, Kentucky 4, Washington St. 4, Tulane 3, Marshall 2, South Carolina 2, Louisiana Tech 1, Toledo 1.

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