If the 2011 Florida Gators are going to be highly ranked, they will have to earn a lofty perch. Florida's football team is ranked 23rd in the 2011 USA Today Preseason Coaches' Poll, released this morning. Oklahoma topped the poll.
Florida is one of a nation-leading eight SEC teams ranked in the preseason poll, and is the lowest-ranked of them all: Alabama is No. 2, defending SEC East champion South Carolina is No. 11, and border war rival Georgia comes in at No. 22. Of in-state rivals, only Florida State, ranked fifth, makes the top 25.
The ranking's actually a step up for the Gators, who were unranked in the final edition of the USA Today poll for the 2010 season after an 8-5 season. Florida was listed in the also receiving votes section of the poll, with technically the 31st-most votes in the nation, and slotted in one place behind Miami of Ohio — a team the Gators beat in their season opener.
Florida plays six teams ranked in the preseason top 25 in 2011, including three (No. 2 Alabama, No. 4 LSU, No. 5 Florida State) of the top five.