Miami, which ended the '80s as the nation's top college football team, is starting the '90s the same way.

The defending national champions are ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press' preseason poll. The Hurricanes beat Notre Dame by 25 points in voting by a nationwide panel of 60 sports writers and broadcasters."It's nice to be recognized, but it also puts a burden on you," Miami coach Dennis Erickson said. "When you're No. 1, everybody wants to play their best against you."

BYU was ranked No. 16.

The Hurricanes, who have won three of the last seven national titles, received 24 first-place votes and 1,431 points. Notre Dame, which finished second last season, was runner-up again with 22 first-place votes and 1,406 points.

It is the first time Miami has been ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll, which started in 1950. Prior to this year, the Hurricanes' highest preseason ranking was No. 3 in 1986.

Miami lost six starters from last year's dominating defense, which allowed the fewest points and yards in the nation. But the Hurricanes return eight starters on offense, including Heisman hopeful Craig Erickson at quarterback.

"We have a chance to be a real good team," Dennis Erickson said. "It's going to be a challenge, though, because our schedule is a lot tougher. Last year, we won some games when we didn't play well. I don't think we'll be able to do that this year."

Certainly not on Oct. 20 when the Hurricanes play Notre Dame at South Bend, Ind. The last three seasons, the winner of that game has gone on to win the national championship.

Miami and Notre Dame both lost one game last season, but the Hurricanes finished No. 1 because they beat the Irish 27-10.

Auburn was third in the preseason poll, Florida State was No. 4 and Colorado was No. 5. Auburn received three first-place votes and 1,311 points, while Florida State - which handed Miami its only defeat last season - got six first-place votes and 1,268 points.

Colorado, which was No. 1 last season before losing to Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl, received four first-place votes and 1,258 points.

The remaining first-place vote went to Michigan State. However, only one other voter put the Spartans in the Top 10 and they wound up 23rd.

Michigan, last year's preseason No. 1, was sixth this year. Nebraska was next, followed by Tennessee, Southern California, Clemson, Illinois, Alabama, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Virginia, Brigham Young, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, UCLA and Washington.

Rounding out the Top 25 were Penn State, Oklahoma, Michigan State, Houston and West Virginia.