A vote in the AP poll

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The Associated Press preseason poll came out Saturday, and one of those first-place votes next to Ohio State belongs to me.

For the second time in my 15-plus years at this newspaper, I’ve been asked to vote in the AP poll. This is a poll that carries no weight in the BCS Standings, but it’s still an honor and a privilege to have a vote, which I will take seriously throughout the season.

Why Ohio State?

I guess I was going against conventional wisdom, especially being a writer who covers the SEC and knows too well what this conference has done to the Buckeyes in the past two BSC title games.

My vote does not mean I am predicting Ohio State to finish the season No. 1. My vote only means Ohio State should start out the season No. 1 based on how many impact players are returning in Columbus and the incredible regular-season track record of Jim Tressel. It also means that I think the Buckeyes are going to win that early season showdown against Southern Cal in Los Angeles on Sept. 13.

Yes, the Buckeyes have been no physical match for Florida and LSU. But these guys are due to win one of these big games ” and the victim is going to be Southern Cal. If the Buckeyes do win that game, their schedule is favorable to make a third consecutive appearance in the national title game. But it’s a long season and we’ll see how it plays out a week at a time (boy, do I sound like a coach, or what?).

I was leaning heavily toward giving Georgia my first-place vote, but then decided to start the Bulldogs out at No. 2 because their schedule is absolutely brutal.

I put Florida in the No. 6 slot because I believe the defense will be much better and Tebow is Tebow, which makes UF a solid top 10 team.

Here’s a look at the rest of my poll:

1. Ohio State
2. Georgia
3. Southern Cal
4. Oklahoma
5. Missouri
6. Florida
7. West Virginia
8. Auburn
9. LSU
10. Texas
11. Clemson
12. Wisconsin
13. Kansas
14. Arizona State
15. Tennessee
16. BYU
17. Texas Tech
18. Oregon
19. South Florida
20. Illinois
21. Alabama
22. Wake Forest
23. Florida State
24. Fresno State
25. Rutgers