The University of South Carolina football team enters the 2014 season ranked ninth in the Associated Press preseason poll, released today. The Gamecocks were also ranked ninth in the preseason USA Today Coaches poll, released earlier this month. Carolina finished the 2013 season ranked fourth in both major polls.
The Gamecocks, coming off three straight 11-2 campaigns, received 1,015 points to place ninth. Florida State garnered 57 of the 60 first place votes and sits atop the poll with 1,496 points, just ahead of Alabama (1,361), Oregon (1,334) and Oklahoma (1,324), all of which received one first place vote. Ohio State (1,207) rounds out the top 5.
Auburn (1,198), UCLA (1,106), Michigan State (1,080) are ranked sixth thru eighth, just ahead of the Gamecocks, with Baylor (966) rounding out the top 10.
The Gamecocks are slated to play five teams that open the season in the top 25 including Auburn (6), Georgia (12), Clemson (16), Texas A&M (21) and Missouri (24).
This marks the 65th-consecutive poll in which the Gamecocks have been ranked among the nation's top-25, extending their school record. They are tied with Stanford for the fifth-longest current streak in the country, trailing only Alabama (99), LSU (82), Oregon (78) and Oklahoma (66).
This marks the first time in school history that the Gamecocks have been ranked in the AP preseason top 25 (or top 12) in four straight seasons. Only five schools – Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, South Carolina and LSU – have been in preseason AP Top 12 each of last four years.
Carolina has improved its AP pre-season poll finish in the final rankings in each of last four years:
2013 – Preseason 6 / Final 4
2012 – Preseason 9 / Final 8
2011 – Preseason 12 / Final 9
2010 – Preseason 29 / Final 22
The Gamecocks will put their 18-game home winning streak, the nation's longest, on the line when they open the 2014 season against Texas A&M on Thursday, August 28. Game time is set for 6 p.m. ET at Williams-Brice Stadium. The game will be the first football game shown on the SEC Network.
Clemson was ranked 16th in the preseason Associated Press College Football Poll released on Sunday, August 17. The ranking matches Clemson's number-16 ranking in the preseason USA Today poll released on July 31.
“I think it is a good place to start,” said Head Coach Dabo Swinney. “With two of our first three games against top 12 teams on the road we will have a chance to improve on that (ranking) early in the season. We look at those games at Georgia and at Florida State as an opportunity, but we will obviously have to play well.”
Overall, Clemson has four games against teams ranked in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 and three of those contests will be played before the end of September. In addition to games against #12 Georgia on August 30 and at #1 Florida State on September 20, the Tigers play host to #23 North Carolina on September 27, and #9 South Carolina on November 29.
This marks the third consecutive year Clemson has been ranked in the preseason top 16 of the Associated Press Poll. Clemson was 14th in the preseason for 2012 and eighth last year. Clemson finished 11th and eighth, respectively, according to AP each of the last two years. This is the first time Clemson has been ranked in the preseason for at least three consecutive years since a streak of eight years in a row from 1987-94.
Overall, this is the 23rd year Clemson has been ranked in the Associated Press preseason poll. The Tigers have gone on to finish in the top 25 of those seasons 13 times. But the Tigers have finished in the top 25 both times they have been ranked in the preseason under Head Coach Dabo Swinney.
Conversely, Clemson has ranked in the final top 25 nine seasons without a preseason top 25 ranking. Swinney's teams have done that twice, in 2009 and 2011. Additionally, Clemson won the 1981 National Championship without a preseason top 20 ranking.
Sunday's ranking marks the 47thh consecutive poll Clemson has been ranked in the Associated Press top 25. The streak dates to early in the 2011 season. It is the second longest streak in Clemson history and three polls off the record of 50 in a row. Clemson is one of seven schools that has been ranked in 47 consecutive AP polls, joining Alabama, Oklahoma LSU, Stanford, South Carolina and Oregon.