Aug. 14, 1999
Florida State finds itself in a familiar position - No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason college football poll.
For the fifth time since 1988, coach Bobby Bowden's Seminoles enter the season as favorites to win the national championship. This year's title game is at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 4.
"It's tough enough to win a national championship, but to be preseason No. 1 makes it doubly tough," Bowden said. "We did it in '93, but never before or after."
Tennessee, the defending champs who knocked off Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl to complete a 13-0 season, is right behind at No. 2 in the poll.
Florida State, which won its only national title in 1993, also was a preseason No. 1 in 1988, '91, '93 and '95. The Seminoles have not started a season ranked lower than fifth in the AP preseason poll since '88.
"I don't think I'm letting the cat out of the bag by saying winning a national title is our goal this year and every year," Bowden said. "Let's get it on!"
Penn State is third, and Arizona fourth, but that should change in a hurry after the teams meet in the Pigskin Classic on Aug. 28 in State College, Pa. The Seminoles open the season the same day against Louisiana Tech.
Florida State received 48 first-place votes and 1,720 points from the 70 sports writers and broadcasters on the AP panel.
Tennessee had 15 first-place votes and 1,643 points, with No. 3 Penn State collecting four first-place votes and 1,582 points and No. 4 Arizona one first-place vote and 1,537 points.
Florida is No. 5 with one first-place vote and 1,361 points.
Rounding out the Top 10 is No. 6 Nebraska, No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 8 Michigan, No. 9 Ohio State and No. 10 Wisconsin.
Georgia Tech is No. 11, followed by No. 12 Miami, No. 13 Virginia Tech (one first-place vote), No. 14 Georgia, No. 15 Colorado, No. 16 UCLA, No. 17 Texas, No. 18 Notre Dame, No. 19 Southern California and Alabama and Kansas State are tied at No. 20.
Arkansas is No. 22, followed by No. 23 Purdue, No. 24 Virginia and No. 25 Arizona State.
The top five teams in the USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll are identical to those in the AP poll.
Florida schools have been ranked No. 1 in the AP preseason poll seven times in the 1990s. Miami was No. 1 in 1990 and '92, and Florida was No. 1 in '94.
Four of the Top 10 teams are from the Big Ten Conference - Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin. The Southeastern, Big Ten and Big 12 conferences each have five teams in the Top 25.
Teams that finished in last year's final Top 25 but did not make the '99 preseason poll are: Tulane (No. 7 in '98), Air Force (No. 13), Missouri (No. 21), and Syracuse (No. 25).
Since 1950, eight teams were ranked No. 1 in the preseason and went on to win the national title: Tennessee (1951), Michigan State (1952), Oklahoma (1956, 1974, 1975, 1985), Alabama (1978), and Florida State (1993).
No team has gone wire-to-wire ranked No. 1, but two teams - Nebraska in 1983 and Florida State in 1993 - came close.
The '83 Cornhuskers went 12-0 before losing to Miami 31-30 in the Orange Bowl. The '93 Seminoles were No. 1 for most of the season, lost to Notre Dame but beat Nebraska in the Orange Bowl to claim the title.
The Bowl Championship Series, in its second season, will match the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the Sugar Bowl based on standings compiled from the AP media poll and USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll, eight computer rankings, strength-of-schedule and won-loss record.
The final AP poll will be released Jan. 5.
By RICHARD ROSENBLATT
AP Football Writer