Alabama, the two-time defending BCS champ, earned 58 of 61 first-place votes to finish comfortably ahead of No. 2 Ohio State with three top votes. Rounding out the Top 10, in order, were Oregon, Stanford, Georgia, A&M, South Carolina, Clemson, Louisville and Florida.
The Big 12 landed four teams in the poll, with TCU opening at No. 20 and Texas at No. 15. Oklahoma State, at No. 14, received the most support from voters among Big 12 teams (726 points), followed by Texas (622 points) and No. 15 Oklahoma (620 points). TCU finished with 400 points. Big 12 schools Baylor and Kansas State were unranked but finished among the top 30 schools in total votes.
For the Aggies, who posted an 11-2 record and finished No. 5 in both final polls last season, the starting spot is A&M’s highest since 1995, when the team finished 9-3 in the final season of the Southwest Conference. A&M returns quarterback Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, and was the only school to defeat Alabama during the Crimson Tide’s 13-1 march to last year’s BCS title.
SEC schools placed the most teams in the inaugural poll, with six. The Pac-12 had five teams, with UCLA (No. 21), Southern California (No. 24) and Oregon State (No. 25) grabbing thee of the last five available spots. Notre Dame, which lost to Alabama 42-14 in last year’s BCS title game, opened at No. 11.
The Associated Press' preseason poll will be released Aug. 17.
_ Jimmy Burch