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Oklahoma Sooners Sit Soundly Atop USA Today's Top-25 Preseason Rankings

Oklahoma is the choice of USA Today's panel of coaches as the nation's top-ranked team heading into the 2011 college football season.

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Oklahoma's Bob Stoops
Oklahoma's Bob Stoops

Seven-time Big 12 champion Oklahoma has been getting a lot of national attention in college football in the offseason, including being No. 1 pick of several national sports publications during the so-called pre-preseason period of college football over the summer months. Now the Sooners are the overwhelming No. 1 choice of a panel of college football coaches in the USA Today Preseason Top 25, released this morning.

The Sooners received 42 of the 59 first-place votes cast by the USA Today coaches' panel. Alabama received 13 first-place votes and ranked second in the USA Today initial college football poll for the 2011 season. Oregon got two first-place votes and ranked third in the poll, and LSU was rated No. 1 on the remaining two first-place ballots.

The Big 12 rated extremely well in the USA Today preseason projection, with Oklahoma's in-state rival Oklahoma State coming in eighth, and Texas A&M right behind the Cowboys, in ninth. The Missouri Tigers are 21st, and the Texas Longhorns edged out Penn State by one vote for 24th in the top 25 preseason poll.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops had this to say today about the No. 1 ranking: "It's an honor to be ranked No. 1 any time, but we understand that the preseason ranking means very little compared with what it will mean months from now," Stoops said. "Like a lot of other teams, we face the challenge of preparing for a difficult schedule. Our aspirations are clear in that we want to compete for the national championship, and we're flattered to  be considered by others as a program that has an opportunity to reach that goal."

High national rankings in football are nothing new to Oklahoma or the Sooner Nation. The Sooners have been ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press preseason media poll (which is expected to come out this weekend) nine times in school history before this season. OU has been ranked as one of the top 25 teams in the country in 63 of 75 seasons since 1936, and in 18 of those years, the team was ranked No, 1 in the nation at some point in the season. No other college football program in the country has been ranked first, second or in the top five nationally more times than Oklahoma.

Oklahoma (12-2) finished sixth in the final USA Today coaches poll at the end of last season. Oklahoma State ended up 10th, and Texas A&M, a loser to LSU in the Cotton Bowl Classic that broke a six-game winning streak to end the regular season for the Aggies, finished 21st in the final poll.

Three Big 12 coaches are part of the coaches' panel that votes in the USA Today poll: Bob Stoops of Oklahoma, Gary Pinkel of Missouri and Tommy Tuberville at Texas Tech. Oklahoma was also voted the preseason favorite by Big 12 coaches to win the 2011 conference crown for the second straight year.

USA Today Preseason Top-25 College Football Poll

1.   Oklahoma (42 first-place votes) 1,454 points

2.   Alabama (13) 1,414

3.   Oregon (2) 1,309

4.   LSU (2) 1,296

5.   Florida State 1,116

6.   Stanford 1,101

7.   Boise State 1,065

8.   Oklahoma State 933

9.   Texas A&M 885

10. Wisconsin 829

11. Nebraska 814

12. South Carolina 779

13. Virginia Tech 767

14. Arkansas 750

15. TCU 687

16. Ohio State 631

17. Michigan State 536

18. Notre Dame 440

19, Auburn 329

20. Mississippi State 301

21. Missouri 266

22. Georgia 260

23. Florida 240

24. Texas 162

25. Penn State 161

Make sure to check out SB Nation's Oklahoma blog at Crimson And Cream Machine.