Tigers Ranked No. 3 in ESPN/USA Today Preseason Poll
BATON ROUGE — LSU will enter the 2004 season with its highest preseason ranking in 45 years as the Tigers came in at No. 3 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, which was released on Friday.
The No. 3 ranking is the highest preseason selection for the Tigers since 1959 when LSU was ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press preseason poll. It’s the highest preseason ranking ever for LSU in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches, which debuted in 1982.
“You get ranked in preseason polls based on what you did the previous season,” LSU coach Nick Saban said regarding his team’s No. 3 ranking. “We’re back at ground zero on the mountain and we haven’t won a game. It’s up to all of us to determine how the season goes and what type of ranking we’re deserving of at the end of the year.”
The Tigers, winners of the 2003 BCS National Championship, return seven starters on defense, six starters on offense and a pair of specialists from last year’s 13-1 team. Among the returning starters include preseason All-Americas in center Ben Wilkerson, offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, return specialist Skyler Green, defensive end Marcus Spears and cornerback Corey Webster.
Southern Cal tops the poll by receiving 44 of a possible 61 first place votes. Oklahoma, the team LSU defeated last year to win the national title, is ranked second in the poll after picking up 12 first place votes and a total of 1,426 points. The Tigers are third with five first place votes and a total of 1,387 points. Georgia and Miami round out the top five.
Florida State starts the bottom half of the top 10 followed by Michigan, Texas, Ohio State and Florida. Other SEC teams in the poll include Tennessee at No. 14 and Auburn at No. 18.
The Tigers, who report for fall camp on Sunday, Aug. 8, open their season at 5 p.m. in Tiger Stadium on Sept. 4 against Oregon State.