Bruce Ellington (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
Columbia, SC (WLTX) - USC goes into the 2013 with the highest expectations in school history. Now, they have the highest preseason ranking ever for the school to go with them.
The Gamecocks are sixth in the Associated Press' preseason poll, which was released Saturday afternoon. It's the loftiest position ever for USC in a before-the-season survey, besting the seventh position they were granted earlier this month in the USA TODAY/Coaches poll.
"I hope we can live up to it," said head coach Steve Spurrier said in a statement Saturday. "It's flattering. I don't know if we can live up to it or not, but we'll try."
Alabama was the overwhelming choice for number one, followed by Ohio State, Oregon, Stanford, and Georgia.
Gamecock arch-rival Clemson is seventh.
The Gamecocks are led by junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, everyone's All-American, who many experts say is the best player in college football. On offense, they'll be guided by starting quarterback Connor Shaw, although coach Spurrier says backup Dylan Thompson should see plenty of playing time.
USC opens the season at Williams-Brice Stadium on August 29th at 6 p.m. versus North Carolina.
2013 Associated Press Preseason Top-25 (first-place votes in parenthesis)
1. Alabama (58)
2. Ohio State (1)
5. Georgia (1)
6. South Carolina
7. Texas A&M
11. Florida State
13. Oklahoma State
14. Notre Dame
19. Boise State
24. Southern California
25. Oregon State