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CORNHUSKERS TO START 1996 AS NATION’S TOP-RANKED TEAM

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Here's a new twist for Nebraska: For the first time in 13 years, the Cornhuskers will start the season as the No. 1 team.

Nebraska, looking for an unprecedented third straight national title, is the overwhelming No. 1 pick in The Associated Press' preseason college football poll.The Cornhuskers received 50 first-place votes for 1,644 points, easily outdistancing No. 2 Tennessee, which had seven first-place votes and 1,538 points.

No team has gone wire-to-wire ranked No. 1.

It also marks the first time in seven years a team from Florida was not atop the preseason rankings. Florida State was first in 1991, 1993 and 1995, while Miami was No. 1 in 1990 and 1992 and Florida No. 1 in 1994.

The Volunteers, led by quarterback Peyton Manning, lost only once last season, collapsing in the second half in a 62-37 loss to Florida.

Florida State, last year's preseason No. 1, is third with five first-place votes and 1,529 points.

Florida, unbeaten in '95 until humbled by Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl, is No. 4 with one first-place vote and 1,490 points.

Colorado is fifth, its highest preseason ranking since it entered the 1972 season at No. 2. The Buffaloes, with three first-place votes, also were ranked fifth to start the 1990 season - the year they won the national title.

Notre Dame, with one first-place vote, is sixth, followed by Southern California, Texas, Ohio State and Syracuse.

Penn State is 11th, followed by Miami, Texas A&M, Michigan, Alabama, Virginia Tech, Auburn, Northwestern, LSU, Arizona State, Kansas State, Iowa, Virginia, Kansas and Clemson.

Northwestern makes its first preseason poll appearance since occupying the 20th spot in 1971.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

109 in Division I-A

There are 109 schools competing in Division I-A, including newcomers Alabama-Birmingham and Central Florida. Pacific has dropped football, and Boise State and Idaho are not officially recognized by the NCAA as Division I-A schools this season.