MCLEAN, Va., Aug. 2 (UPI) -- Louisiana State, No. 1 for much of last season, is starting the 2012 season atop the SEC-dominated USA Today Coaches' Poll, which was released Thursday.
LSU (13-1 last season) pulled in 18 first-place votes and totaled 1,403 points, edging Alabama (12-1) for the top spot. The Crimson Tide, who received 20 first-place mentions, totaled 1,399 points.
Alabama defeated LSU 21-0 in the 2012 BCS Championship game, avenging a 9-6 loss in overtime to the Tigers during the regular season.
The voting coaches see the Southeastern Conference as again a powerhouse. In addition to LSU and Alabama, three other teams are in the Top 10, two more are ranked and new members Texas A&M and Missouri got votes.
In all,11 of the 14 SEC members at least got mentions in the pre-season poll.
Southern California (10-2) also won more first-place mentions -- 19 -- than LSU. The Trojans were on probation last year and couldn't be rated. USC has 1,388 points in the pre-season poll.
Oklahoma (10-3), last year's pre-season No. 1 is fourth followed by Oregon (12-2). Georgia (10-4), also in the SEC, is sixth with Florida State (9-4) and Michigan (11-2) in the seventh and eighth spots.
SEC members South Carolina (11-2) and Arkansas (11-2) round out the Top 10.
West Virginia (10-3) is No. 11 as it starts play as a Big 12 Conference member. Big 10 foes Wisconsin (11-3) and Michigan State (11-3) are 12th and 13th, followed by No. 14 Clemson (10-4) and 15th-rated Texas (8-5).
Nebraska (9-4) comes in at 16th and Texas Christian (11-2), another new Big 12 entry, is No. 17. Stanford (11-2) is rated 18th, Oklahoma State (12-1) is 19th and Virginia Tech (11-3) is 20th.
Kansas State (10-3) is the No. 21 team with Boise State (12-1) in 22nd place while SEC teams Florida (7-6) is 23rd and Auburn (8-5) is 25th around No. 24-ranked Notre Dame (8-5).