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Defending national champs Florida State No. 1 in AP pre-season poll

Florida State is ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press preseason poll

Florida State, for what it's worth these days, was an overwhelming pick for No. 1 in Sunday's release of the Associated Press pre-season college football poll. The Seminoles garnered 57 of the available 60 first place votes.

Florida State is followed by Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma and Ohio State. Auburn is sixth followed by UCLA, Michigan State, South Carolina and Baylor. USC is No. 15.

We temper the poll release news because Florida State is an obvious No. 1 choice, coming off a 14-0 season in which it returns Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston.

Also, the venerated AP poll won't have the same impact in college football's new era of the four-team playoff.

The AP poll, which started in 1936, had always been an independent and important arbiter in the murky world of deciding No. 1 in a sport that had refused, until now, to stage any kind of playoff.

The AP, in 2003, independently crowned USC as national champions even though Louisiana State won the Bowl Championship Series trophy awarded by USA Today voting coaches. USC had been No. 1 in both polls that year but finished No. 3 in the BCS standings that determined the national title participants.

It wasn't the first time the AP poll split with the voting coaches.

In 1997, the year before the BCS, Michigan was No. 1 in both polls entering its Rose Bowl matchup against Washington State. The Wolverines won the game and claimed the AP crown.

The USA Today coaches, however, dropped Michigan after a win and instead awarded its share of the title Nebraska. Some saw it as a going-away present for retiring coach Tom Osborne.

The AP also allowed USC to keep its 2004 title even after the Trojans were forced to vacate their BCS title after NCAA sanctions were handed down in the Reggie Bush case.

The impact of college football polls, however, becomes significantly diminished this year as a 13-person selection committee will choose the four-team playoff field.

The AP will still crown an independent champion, but it seems unlikely it would not be a team that won a two-game playoff test against top five teams in the nation.

Here's the complete AP pre-season poll (first-place votes in parenthesis):

1. Florida St. (57); 2. Alabama (1); 3. Oregon (1); 4. Oklahoma (1); 5. Ohio St.; 6. Auburn; 7. UCLA; 8. Michigan St.; 9. South Carolina; 10. Baylor

11. Stanford; 12. Georgia; 13. LSU; 14. Wisconsin; 15. USC; 16. Clemson; 17. Notre Dame18. Mississippi; 19. Arizona St.; 20. Kansas St.

21. Texas A&M; 22. Nebraska; 23. North Carolina; 24. Missouri; 25. Washington

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