Florida, the defending national champion, received the top spot in today’s pre-season USA Today/coaches’ college football poll, with Texas at No. 2. The Longhorns received four first-place votes, more than any team other than Florida (53).
It marked Texas’ highest start in a pre-season poll since 2006, when the Longhorns began that season at No. 2 in the coaches poll. Texas began the 2005 season at No. 2 in both the coaches poll and the Associated Press poll before winning the national championship that season.
Other first-place votes in the pre-season poll went to Oklahoma (1), which checked in at No. 3, and Southern California (1), which was fourth. Rounding out the Top 10, in order, were Alabama, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Penn State, LSU and Mississippi.
TCU cracked the poll at No. 17. Oklahoma State opened at No. 11.
TCU was the highest-ranked of three Mountain West schools in the poll, ahead of No. 18 Utah and No. 24 Brigham Young. The Big 12 landed four teams in the poll, with No. 22 Nebraska joining Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
In a statement released by school officials, Texas coach Mack Brown downplayed the significance of his team’s lofty ranking but said, “Coach (Darrell) Royal told me a long time ago that pre-season polls are like beauty contests, and if they’re going to enter you, you want to be near the top ... We need to be sure the guys understand that where you finish at the end of the year is important; where you rank at the first of the year is simply respect.”
_ Jimmy Burch