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Ohio State No. 1 In Coaches Poll

It took eight months, but college football coaches finally decided Nebraska was no longer the best team in the country.

The preseason coaches' college football poll was released this afternoon with Ohio State

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-- and not co-national champions Nebraska or Michigan -- holding the top spot. It was eight months ago that the coaches sent Tom Osborne into retirement by giving Nebraska the nod in this poll, while Michigan secured The Associated Press media championship.

Now it is Ohio State, Michigan's archrival in the Big Ten Conference, that has the burden of being the team to beat the eyes of the coaches. The Buckeyes finished 12th in the final poll last season.

Perennial contender Florida State is ranked second, followed by Nebraska, 1996 national champion Florida and then Michigan.

Ohio State captured 31 of a possible 62 votes for the top spot, Florida State 10, Nebraska 12, Florida one and Michigan four. The other teams to receive consideration for No. 1 were sixth-ranked Kansas State (one vote) and seventh-ranked UCLA (three).

In the final 1997 ranking, Nebraska edged Michigan by only four points, securing 32 first-place votes. Ohio State compiled 1,465 points, 17 more than Florida State, in the current poll.

The Buckeyes, who open their season Sept. 5 at West Virginia, will rely on a defense that returns linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer, the Butkus Award winner. The offense will feature quarterback Joe Germaine and talented receivers David Boston and Dee Miller.

Louisiana State, Arizona State and Tennessee round out the top 10.

North Carolina took the 11th spot, down four slots from its final 1997 ranking, while West Virginia went from unranked in the final 1997 poll to No. 12. Penn State is 13th, Syracuse 14th and Texas A&M 15th.

Colorado State retained the 16th slot from last season and is followed by Washington, Georgia, Virginia and Wisconsin. Southern Mississippi is 21st while Auburn, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Arizona complete the poll.

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