LSU picked up 18 first-place votes in the first USA Today coaches’ poll — two fewer than Alabama — but the Tigers edged the Crimson Tide for the top spot in the preseason rankings.
LSU picked up 1,403 points in voting of the nation’s coaches, edging defending national champion Alabama with 1,399.
The top five teams in the USA Today preseason coaches’ poll:
USC also had more first-place votes than the Tigers — 19 — but is third in the initial poll with 1,388 points. Balloting was finished before the Trojans signed Silas Redd, the transfer from Penn State.
It is the second time since 1998 that teams that met in the previous season’s title game are the top two teams in the preseason poll.
Oklahoma, with one first place vote, is fourth in the preseason poll, followed by Oregon, Georgia, Florida State, Michigan, South Carolina and Arkansas.
The SEC, which has won the last six BCS championship games, has five of the nation’s top 10 teams and seven teams in the preseason poll. The Big 12 has six teams, but only one in the top 10.