The LSU Tigers were ranked No. 3 in the AP Top 25 preseason poll which came out on Aug 18. The USC Trojans were ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll for the first time in five years. Alabama was No. 2, nine points ahead of LSU.
USC received 25 first-place votes out of the 60 total first-place votes. Alabama received 17 first-place votes while the Tigers picked up 16 votes for No. 1. Oklahoma (No. 4) and Michigan (No. 8) received the other first-place votes. LSU was originally going to enter the 2012 college football season ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll with 28 first-place votes. After All-American cornerback Tyrann Mathieu was dismissed from the team, the AP extended their voting deadline and the Tigers dropped.
AP Preseason Poll and National Champions
Since the 2000 season, the AP has had the eventual BCS national champion as their preseason No. 1 just once, USC in 2004. When the Trojans' BCS title was vacated, the AP refused to vacate the title they had given to USC. The virtual preseason guessing game by AP voters isn't just recent history. In fact, only 10 of the past 62 AP preseason No. 1 teams finished the season at No. 1. As the AP Poll is not part of the BCS rankings, it ultimately won't matter where they rank teams. The one advantage of the AP over the Coaches' Poll is that the AP voters' ballots are public.
SEC In Top 25
After Alabama and LSU, Georgia (No. 6), South Carolina (No. 9) and Arkansas (No. 10) were ranked in the top 10. The Florida Gators were also ranked in the Top 25 at No. 23. New SEC members Texas A&M and Missouri received votes in the AP's preseason poll. Auburn, Tennessee and Mississippi State also received at least one vote.
Alabama and Michigan play the first week of the season at Cowboys Stadium in a game which the Crimson Tide should be two score favorites. Despite starting the season No. 1 in the preseason Coaches' Poll which was released on Aug. 2, LSU will likely have a hard time staying there playing North Texas in week one. However, the overall ease of the schedule could help LSU make it back to the BCS title game this season if the Tigers can get by Alabama.
As an LSU fan, I don't mind the media voters dropping the Tigers. The AP hasn't been a good predictor of the national champion recently anyway.
More from Patrick Johnston:LSU football ranked No. 1 in preseason Coaches Poll
Ralph D. Russo, "USC brushes off sanctions to be No. 1 in AP Top 25", Yahoo! Sports