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TIGERS “SWEET SIXTEEN” IN ASSOCIATED PRESS PRESEASON POLL …

The University of South Carolina football team will begin the 2014 season ranked No. 9 in the nation according to the sportswriters, while Clemson University will kick off the year ranked No. 16.  The preseason Associated Press rankings for the Palmetto State’s top two programs were identical to their positions in the USA Today/ Coaches’ poll released two-and-a-half weeks ago.

Of course there could be plenty of motion … pretty early.

South Carolina opens its season on August 28 at home against No. 20/21 Texas A&M … while Clemson kicks off its season two days later on the road against No. 12 Georgia.  Meanwhile the Gamecocks host the Bulldogs on September 13 – while Clemson travels to Tallahassee, Florida on September 20 to take on defending national champion and preseason No. 1 Florida State.

“I think it is a good place to start,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said of his team’s ranking.  “With two of our first three games against top 12 teams on the road we will have a chance to improve on that (ranking) early in the season.  We look at those games at Georgia and at Florida State as an opportunity, but we will obviously have to play well.”

The Seminoles – led by defending Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston – received 57 of 60 first-place votes from the sportswriters.  But it was the powerful Southeastern Conference that dominated the preseason rankings, with eight teams of its fourteen teams included in the poll (No. 2 Alabama, No. 6 Auburn, No. 9 South Carolina, No. 12 Georgia, No. 13 LSU, No. 18 Ole Miss, No. 21 Texas A&M and No. 24 Missouri).

Three other SEC teams – Florida, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt – received votes from the sportswriters but did not rank among the Top 25.

The PAC-12 was the next-best represented conference – with six teams appearing in the poll (No. 3 Oregon, No. 7 UCLA, No. 11 Stanford, No. 15 USC, No. 19 Arizona State and No. 25 Washington).

Here are the complete rankings …

ap

1. Florida State (57) 0-0, 1496
2. Alabama (1) 0-0, 1361
3. Oregon (1) 0-0, 1334
4. Oklahoma (1) 0-0, 1324
5. Ohio State 0-0, 1207
6. Auburn 0-0, 1198
7. UCLA 0-0, 1106
8. Michigan State 0-0, 1080
9. South Carolina 0-0, 1015
10. Baylor 0-0, 966
11. Stanford 0-0, 885
12. Georgia 0-0, 843
13. LSU 0-0, 776
14. Wisconsin 0-0, 637
15. USC 0-0, 626
16. Clemson 0-0, 536
17. Notre Dame 0-0, 445
18. Ole Miss 0-0, 424
19. Arizona State 0-0, 357
20. Kansas State 0-0, 242
21. Texas A&M 0-0, 238
22. Nebraska 0-0, 226
23. North Carolina 0-0, 194
24. Missouri 0-0, 134
25. Washington 0-0, 130

Others receiving votes: UCF 94, Florida 87, Texas 86, Duke 71, Iowa 68, Louisville 48, Marshall 41, Oklahoma State 37, Virginia Tech 26, TCU 23, Mississippi State 22, Michigan 19, Texas Tech 19, Miami (FL) 16, Cincinnati 15, Boise State 10, Oregon State 10, Northwestern 8, BYU 8, Penn State 5, Vanderbilt 2, Navy 2, Nevada 1, Louisiana-Lafayette 1, Utah State 1.