"I really don't like preseason polls; they are basically paper football," Meinke said in a telephone interview. "Picking between USC, LSU and Oklahoma was like splitting hairs."
Meinke said he mulled over his pick for a couple of weeks, but that OU's first nine games are all very winnable, and that by the time the Sooners get to West Virginia, Oklahoma State and TCU, the now-inexperienced offensive line should be up to speed.
Brandon Marcello, who covers Mississippi State football for the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., said in a telephone interview that he actually dropped the Sooners from fourth to fifth before submitting his final preseason ballot. He's also one of the 16 voters who kept LSU at No. 1.
The only thing Marcello identified as a potential weakness he sees in Oklahoma is its 2011 red-zone scoring; just 59 percent of OU's trips inside opponents' 20-yard line ended in touchdowns last season.
“I still think they're a top-5 team,” Marcello said of Oklahoma, citing the defense and Landry Jones, who he called one of the best quarterbacks in the nation.
“But I dropped them because there's been so much turmoil — suspensions, guys not being there and coming back, injuries — so I thought Oregon should be in that No. 4 spot.”