McLean, VA – LSU and Alabama will start the 2012 college football season as the top two teams in the preseason USA Today coaches' poll.
The two were also the top teams in the final poll of 2011, but in reverse order after Alabama avenged its only loss of the regular season and beat LSU in the BCS National Championship Game.
LSU received 18 first-place votes and a total of 1,403 points from a nationwide panel of coaches. Alabama had two more No. 1 votes, but four fewer points with 1,399.
Southern California gave the SEC teams a run for the top spot with 19 first- place votes and 1,388 points to finish a close third. Oklahoma, with one top tally, and 1,276 points is fourth, followed by Oregon, Georgia, Florida State, Michigan, South Carolina and Arkansas. Florida State also picked up a No. 1 vote.
Half of the top 10 is comprised of teams from the SEC, the all-powerful league that has won each of the last six BCS titles.
West Virginia, which has moved from the Big East to the Big 12, starts the second 10 and is followed by Wisconsin, Michigan State, Clemson, Texas, Nebraska, TCU, Stanford, Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech. TCU is also new to the Big 12 this year.
Kansas State, Boise State, Florida, Notre Dame and Auburn are the last five teams ranked.
A total of seven SEC teams are ranked in the expanded league that now has 14 teams with the additions of Missouri and Texas A&M. The Big 12, which replaced Missouri and Texas A&M with West Virginia and TCU, has six of its 10 teams in the poll. The Big Ten has four ranked teams, while both the Pac-12 and ACC have three.
There are no Big East teams ranked, although Boise State will join the league for football next year.