USA Today coaches poll released: Cougs to play four preseason top 25 teams

Kevin Casey

Top five teams Oregon and Stanford lead the way.

Life in the Pac-12 North hasn't been real easy the last couple of years. And if the USA Today coaches poll -- whose preseason iteration was released this morning -- is to be believed, life isn't going to get any easier for a WSU team that is trying to get back to its first bowl in a decade.

WSU will be facing four opponents who will start the season ranked in the top 25, three of which reside in their own division: No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Stanford, No. 24 USC and No. 25 Oregon State. Additionally, the Cougs will take on three other teams lurking on the fringes in the "others receiving votes" category: Arizona State, Arizona and Washington.

Will all those teams end up in the top 25 at some point? Probably not, but it's still fun to think that 80 percent of WSU's opponents in the Pac-12 North would have appeared in the top 25 at some point -- all it probably will take is for the three already in to beat their overmatched opponents in their openers and Washington beating No. 19 Boise State in the first game at renovated Husky Stadium.

USC plays Hawaii in week one, so it's likely the Trojans will be the Cougs' first ranked opponent of the year on Sept. 7. Stanford faces a test against ASU at home in week three, but there's a good chance the Cardinal will still be in the top five when they come to Seattle on Sept. 28. And of course there's a good chance Oregon still will be undefeated when WSU travels to Eugene to face the Ducks on Oct. 12.

One nice thing is that while the Cougs don't get the advantage of playing Colorado this season, they do avoid No. 21 UCLA. (Although Bill Connelly's laptop is much more skeptical of the Bruins than the voters are.)

Here's the full poll. Did the "coaches" (better known to the rest of us as "sports information directors") get it right with the Pac-12 teams?

RANK TEAM RECORD POINTS PREVIOUS RANK
1 Alabama (58) 13-1 1545 1
2 Ohio St. (3) 12-0 1427 NR
3 Oregon 12-1 1397 2
4 Stanford 12-2 1262 6
5 Georgia 12-2 1250 4
6 Texas A&M (1) 11-2 1215 5
7 South Carolina 11-2 1136 7
8 Clemson 11-2 1047 9
9 Louisville 11-2 1010 13
10 Florida 11-2 930 10
11 Notre Dame 12-1 872 3
12 Florida St. 12-2 844 8
13 LSU 10-3 797 12
14 Oklahoma St. 8-5 726 NR
15 Texas 9-4 622 18
16 Oklahoma 10-3 620 15
17 Michigan 8-5 589 NR
18 Nebraska 10-4 426 23
19 Boise St. 11-2 420 14
20 TCU 7-6 400 NR
21 UCLA 9-5 202 NR
22 Northwestern 10-3 186 16
23 Wisconsin 8-0 172 NR
24 USC 7-6 165 NR
25 Oregon St. 9-4 135 19
Schools Dropped Out
No. 11 Kansas State (11-2), No. 17 Utah State (11-2), No. 20 Vanderbilt (9-4), No. 21 San Jose State (11-2), No. 22 Cincinnati (10-3), No. 24 Northern Illinois (12-2), No. 25 Tulsa (11-3).
Others Receiving Votes
Kansas State (11-2) 113; Miami (Fla.) 101; Michigan State 89; Baylor 80; Virginia Tech 65; Fresno State 62; Arizona State 51; Mississippi 32; Vanderbilt (9-4) 29; Utah State (11-2) 23; Brigham Young 20; North Carolina 19; Northern Illinois (12-2) 19; Tulsa (11-3) 9; Ohio 8; San Jose State (11-2) 8; Arizona 5; Cincinnati (10-3) 3; East Carolina 3; Kent State 3; Mississippi State 3; Washington 3; Central Florida 2; Arkansas 1; Arkansas State 1; Rutgers 1; Tennessee 1; Toledo 1.
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