The Big 12 Conference's big three - Oklahoma, Texas, A&M and Oklahoma State - are in everyone's preseason top 25 college football poll, and they added yet another this week when the Football Writers Association of America issued its 2011 Preseason Grantland Rice Poll favoring the Big 12's Sooners to win the Grantland Rice Trophy as college football's top team this season.
Oklahoma picked up seven first-place votes and a total of 229 points from the football writers, followed by Alabama from the Southeastern Conference, which received five first-place votes and 213 total points to finish second to the Sooners in the poll. Another SEC school, LSU, which came in fifth in the poll, and Stanford, seventh, also received first-place votes.
Texas A&M is tenth in the Grantland Rice preseason poll, closely followed by Oklahoma State. Oregon was the third choice of the writers among the Grantland Rice Super 16. Boise State, fourth; Florida State, sixth; Nebraska, formerly of the Big 12 but now in the Big Ten, eighth and Virginia Tech, ninth, round out the top ten.
If the writers are right and Oklahoma goes on to win the 2011 Grantland Rice Trophy, the Sooners will be the first non-SEC school to finish atop the poll in five seasons. The last five trophies, named after the legendary sportswriter of the early 20th century, were awarded to Auburn (2010), Alabama (2009), Florida (which defeated Oklahoma in the 2008 BCS national championship game), LSU (2007) and Florida (2006). OU has won the trophy on five previous occasions (1955, 1956, 1975, 1985 and 2000).
The Grantland Rice Trophy has been awarded by the Football Writers Association of America to the top team in college football since 1954.
The SEC placed four teams in the Grantland Rice Preseason Super 16, the most of any conference. The Big 12 had the second most with three (and had Nebraska still been in the conference, the Big 12 would have tied the SEC for the number of ranked teams). No other conference placed more than two teams in the Super 16.