Miles has no beef with No. 12 ranking, but aims higher

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU coach Les Miles chats with head linesman Johnny Crawford, left, before the Tigers' 2012 season opener against North Texas. Miles and his team are ranked No. 12 in this year's Associated Press preseason poll. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU coach Les Miles chats with head linesman Johnny Crawford, left, before the Tigers' 2012 season opener against North Texas. Miles and his team are ranked No. 12 in this year's Associated Press preseason poll.

Miles takes no issue with preseason ranking, but aims a little higher

There are two ways of looking at LSU’s No. 12 ranking in The Associated Press preseason football poll, which was released Saturday.

The ranking — like No. 13, where the Tigers landed in the USA Today Coaches preseason poll earlier this month — demonstrates diminished expectations for LSU, which was ranked No. 1 by the coaches and No. 3 by the AP in last year’s preseason polls.

On the other hand, this is the 13th consecutive season that the Tigers have been ranked in the AP preseason poll and they are two spots higher than they were in the final poll last season, despite losing 11 underclassmen to the NFL and uncertainty about its leading rusher from last season.

“I think it’s a compliment in a certain regard,” Miles said, “and in a certain regard, let’s see if we can achieve a little better than 12th.”

The Tigers finished 10-3 last season after a 25-24 loss to Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and shortly thereafter came the unprecedented early departures, which included six defensive starters.

LSU opens the season Aug. 31 in Arlington, Texas, against TCU, which is ranked No. 20.

“We’re developing our team and really being driven by the fact that we play a very quality opponent in the opener, and let’s go from there,” Miles said. “We’re so driven by who we play and what we need to earn and how we’re suited going into the season.”

LSU totaled 802 points from 60 AP poll ballots. No. 11 Florida State had 845 points, and No. 13 Oklahoma State had 755.

Notre Dame, which was ranked No. 11 in the coaches poll, was ranked No. 14 in the AP poll, accounting for the Tigers being one spot higher in the wire-service rankings than the coaches rankings.

Alabama, which beat Notre Dame 42-14 in January to win its second consecutive BCS Championship, is No. 1 in both polls. The Crimson Tide, which hosts LSU on Nov. 9, is one of four top-10 teams on the Tigers’ schedule. LSU also faces No. 5 Georgia, No. 7 Texas A&M and No. 10 Florida.

Alabama, which is attempting to become the first team to win three consecutive national championships, got 58 of 60 AP first-place votes. No. 2 Ohio State and Georgia had one each.

The Tigers play at Georgia on Sept. 28, host Florida on Oct. 12 and Texas A&M on Nov. 23.

Alabama matched Florida in 2009 for the highest percentage of first-place votes received in the 63-year history of the preseason rankings.

The Buckeyes received one first-place vote. Oregon is No. 3, followed by Stanford and Georgia, which received the other first-place vote.

The Tide is AP preseason No. 1 for the fourth time, and first since 2010. Alabama was ranked No. 2 in the preseason poll each of the last two seasons. The only time has Alabama started and finished No. 1 was 1978, when Bear Bryant led the Crimson Tide to the fourth of its five national championships with him as coach.

“You’re in a position here where we have a lot of players that really haven’t lost much,” Tide coach Nick Saban told the AP earlier this week. “They have to really want to be good for the sake of being good.”

Alabama and Texas A&M meet Sept. 14 in College Station, Texas. A&M and winner Johnny Manziel handed Alabama its only loss last year. Whether Manziel will be eligible for the rematch remains in question while the NCAA investigates if the Aggies’ quarterback was paid to sign autographs, which would be an NCAA violation.

No. 8 Clemson and No. 9 Louisville, led by two other Heisman-contender quarterbacks, round out the top 10. Tahj Boyd and Clemson take on Georgia at home in Week 1 and are the favorites to win the Atlantic Coast Conference. Teddy Bridgewater and the Cardinals are the heavy favorites to get back to the BCS for the second straight year out of the newly renamed American Athletic Conference.

Scott Rabalais and The Associated Press contributed to this report.