- Sam Khan Jr., ESPN Staff Writer
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When the Associated Press Top 25 dropped Saturday morning, there was no surprise at the top: Alabama was a clear-cut No. 1.
The reigning BCS champions, which have won three of the past four titles, are the preseason No. 1 team in both major polls for the first time since 2010. The Crimson Tide received 58 of 60 possible first-place votes in the AP poll. Ohio State was a distant No. 2 in the rankings.
The Tide were also a landslide No. 1 in the coaches' poll earlier this month. The path to the BCS title will go through Tuscaloosa, Ala., if the rankings are any indication.
The top 5 was identical to that in the coaches' poll, with Oregon, Stanford and Georgia following the Tide and Buckeyes. The SEC is well represented in the rankings, with six teams filling out the Top 25 and two in the top 5. South Carolina is sixth, Texas A&M comes in at No. 7, and Florida is 10th, giving the conference five teams in the top 10, just as it had when the coaches' poll debuted earlier this month.
LSU is the other SEC team in the top 25, coming in at No. 12.
The polls are clear evidence of the national perception of the SEC and its strength in football. With almost half the conference in the top 25, the league has the most teams -- by far -- in the top 10 and the most overall in the Top 25. The Big Ten and Pac-12 each have five teams, and the Big 12 has four, though none higher than Oklahoma State at No. 13.
Fifth-ranked Georgia comes in as a dark horse title contender after coming mere yards within winning the SEC championship game against Alabama a year ago. South Carolina, which is coming off an 11-2 season, figures to challenge Georgia for the SEC East and a berth in the league's title game this year, as will Florida.
Texas A&M must find out the fate of quarterback Johnny Manziel, but if he is available to play, there is every reason to believe that the Aggies will be a serious factor in the SEC. LSU, which finished second in the SEC West a year ago, fills out what looks to once again be arguably the toughest division in college football.
History might not be on Alabama's side when it comes to starting No. 1. The last team to be a preseason No. 1 and finish the season there was USC in 2004. Florida State also did it in 1999. According to ESPN Stats & Info, five teams since 1990 have garnered at least 50 first-place votes in the preseason AP poll. None have gone on to win the national title.
3dSam Khan Jr.
5dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough