The preseason AP Top 25 Poll is starting the same way it ended last year with Alabama No. 1 and Clemson No. 2.
The Tide is the No. 1 team for the third time under coach Nick Saban, but that might not be a good thing. Since 1999, only two teams that have started the season No. 1 in both the AP and coaches polls — Florida State in 1999 and USC in 2004 (which was later vacated) — have gone on to win the national title.
Can Alabama be the third? It certainly has the talent for it. Despite losing several players to the NFL, its defensive coordinator and having to field a new quarterback and replace a Heisman-winning running back, the Tide appear to have all the pieces and depth for a championship run. Time will tell, but the Tide are definitely no stranger to the preseason pressure. They have been ranked in the preseason top five for eight consecutive years.
Clemson at No. 2 is actually the Tigers’ best preseason start in school history. The previous high was No. 4 in 1984 and 1988.
Oklahoma and Florida State round out the Top 4 with LSU and Ohio State, which is ranked in the preseason Top 25 for its 28th straight year, trailing closely behind. It’s also worth noting that Houston, which is ranked No. 15, is ranked in the preseason for the first time since 1991 and is the only Group of Five team in the poll.
No. 9 Tennessee is making its highest debut in the poll since 2005, No. 10 Notre Dame since 2006 and No. 14 Washington since 2002.
Here’s the complete preseason AP Top 25:
4. Florida State
6. Ohio State
10. Notre Dame
11. Ole Miss
12. Michigan State
21. Oklahoma State
22. North Carolina