NORMAN — Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops and Alabama’s Nick Saban have had plenty of back-and-forth talk in the media recently.
If the preseason coaches poll is to be believed, the two will settle things on the field for the second consecutive season.
The Sooners are No. 3 in the preseason Amway Coaches Poll, released Thursday not long after OU finished its first preseason practice. Alabama is No. 2.
If the season ended with the teams in those spots in the College Football Playoff rankings, OU would meet the Crimson Tide in a semifinal game.
Oklahoma beat Alabama 45-31 in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2.
No. 1 Florida State, the defending national champion, received 56 of the 62 first-place votes in the poll. Alabama, despite being No. 2, did not receive a first-place vote.
The Sooners received three first-place votes. No. 4 Oregon, No. 6 Ohio State and No. 9 South Carolina each received one top vote.
Oklahoma’s preseason ranking is its highest in the coaches poll since starting the 2011 season No. 1. The Sooners finished No. 15 that year.
The last time OU was No. 3 in the preseason poll, in 2009, the Sooners finished unranked.
OU returns most of its defense from last season and quarterback Trevor Knight, who had his best performance of last season against Alabama.
The uncertainty for the Sooners is primarily on the offensive side, where OU lost plenty of playmakers at both wide receiver and running back.
Auburn is No. 5 in the poll, UCLA No. 7 and Michigan State No. 8.
Baylor is the next-highest Big 12 team at No. 10. Kansas State (No. 21) and Texas (No. 24) are also in the top 25.
Oklahoma State received 56 votes, five spots out of the top 25. The Cowboys open the season against the Seminoles in Arlington, Texas.
TCU and Texas Tech also received votes.
The SEC has seven teams ranked, leading all conferences. The Pac 12 has six teams in the poll, the Big Ten five and the ACC — like the Big 12 — has four ranked teams.
All three state Division I coaches — OU’s Bob Stoops, OSU’s Mike Gundy and Tulsa’s Bill Blankenship — are among the 62 coaches voting this season.
Stoops and Gundy are joined on the panel by three other Big 12 coaches: Baylor’s Art Briles, TCU’s Gary Patterson and Texas’ Charlie Strong.
Oklahoma opens the season Aug. 30 at home against Louisiana Tech.