AP Poll College Football 2011: News, Notes and Predictions

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AP Poll College Football 2011: News, Notes and Predictions
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

An SEC team has won the National Championship five years running.

The old saying, "It doesn't matter where you start; it matters where you finish," has just as much precedent this year as any other.

Although the Oklahoma Sooners of the Big 12 open the season as the top ranked team in the country, the SEC has eight teams ranked overall.

The last three times the Sooners have opened the season as the No. 1 team in the land, they have finished No. 3 in the country. This is an admirable feat, but it has yet to yield a National Championship.

It has been 10 years since Bob Stoops and the Sooners actually won a National Championship, and their schedule won't do them any favors this season.

As for the SEC, their best chance at keeping the trophy in conference will be the Alabama Crimson Tide. Nick Saban's team may have lost its starting quarterback, running back, wide receiver, offensive tackle and defensive tackle (four of five were first-round picks), but Alabama has a stacked defense and a more manageable schedule than most of their SEC brethren.

One such team with an unfortunately difficult schedule is the LSU Tigers. Sitting currently at No. 4, the Tigers open the season in a neutral site battle with No. 3 Oregon before they even get into SEC play.

The Ducks are back in force this season and have two of the best Heisman candidates in the entire country in their own backfield. Darron Thomas and LaMichael James pose one of the best one-two punches we have seen in recent years.

The Boise State Broncos round out the top five, and Chris Peterson's team once again has the best chance at crashing the BCS Championship party. The Broncos' toughest game will be the opener when they travel to the Georgia Dome to take on the Georgia Bulldogs.

If Kellen Moore has any shot of winning the Heisman and getting National Championship recognition, he'll have to lead his team to another difficult opening season win.

All in all, the top 10 features the most likely candidates for National Championship consideration. There are three Big 12 teams, two SEC teams, two Pac-12 teams and one ACC, Big Ten and MWC teams.

Opening kickoff is less than two weeks away, and we'll get an early look at how good many of these teams will be in just the first few weeks of play.

Wes O'Donnell

Follow wesodonnell on Twitter

Rank Team
1 Oklahoma (Big 12)
2 Alabama (SEC)
3 Oregon (PAC-12)
5 Boise State (Mountain West)
6 Florida State (ACC)
7 Stanford (PAC-12)
8 Texas A&M (Big 12)
9 Oklahoma State (Big 12)
10 Nebraska (Big Ten)
11 Wisconsin (Big Ten)
12 South Carolina (SEC)
13 Virginia Tech (ACC)
14 TCU (Mountain West)
15 Arkansas (SEC)
16 Notre Dame (Independent)
17 Michigan State (Big Ten)
18 Ohio State (Big Ten)
19 Georgia (SEC)
20 Mississippi State (SEC)
21 Missouri (Big 12)
22 Florida (SEC)
23 Auburn (SEC)
24 West Virginia (Big East)
25 USC (Pac-12)

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