Notre Dame finds itself ranked 24th in the preseason USA Today Coaches’ Poll. The Irish slot in between SEC teams Florida (No. 23) and Auburn (No.25) and gathered 166 points in voting. LSU, Alabama, and USC are the top-three teams, with the Tigers garnering 18 first place votes, two less than the defending champs (20) and one less that the Trojans’ 19 first place votes.
Any validation the Irish’s daunting 2012 schedule needs seems to be found within this poll. The Irish play No. 3 (USC), No. 4 (Oklahoma), No. 8 (Michigan), No. 13 (Michigan State), No. 18 (Stanford), while also facing returning 10-win team Brigham Young, an improved Purdue team, not to mention teams like Miami, Pitt, Boston College, Navy and Wake Forest.
Seven SEC teams are ranked, including five of the top ten. The new Big 12 also has six teams in the rankings. Four Big Ten teams are ranked, while the ACC and Pac-12 had three each.
Here is the Top 25 in its entirety: