LSU, who was blown out by Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game, was a slight choice for No. 1 in the USA Today Coaches' preseason college football poll released Thursday.
Alabama is No. 2, USC, who didn't play in the postseason is third, followed by last season's preseason No. 1 Oklahoma and Oregon round out the top five.
This the first time since USA TODAY Sports began administering the coaches' poll in 1991 that the No. 1 team in the preseason had fewer first-place votes than the runner-up. The 15-point spread between first and third is also the tightest of any preseason poll in that span.
LSU received 1,403 total points, but Alabama received more first place votes than the Tigers.
The SEC has five teams in the Top 10 and leads all conferences with seven teams ranked in the top 25. The Big 12 has six teams. There is no Big East team in the preseason poll for the second season in a row.
"We are fortunate to be at a place that allows you to compete for that (No. 1) spot," LSU coach Les Miles told USA TODAY Sports in a statement. "We recognize that it (No. 1 ranking) is more of a reflection of a body of work and understand that right now, it's a spot that we hold and not one that has been earned. It's a position that we enjoy. Now we have to go out and play in order to keep it.