Alabama will begin its quest for a second consecutive national championship with a rare three-peat.
The Crimson Tide is just the second team to be ranked No. 1 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll for three straight seasons. Alabama received 42 out of 61 first-place votes.
No. 2 Clemson received 18 first-place votes. Georgia is No. 3 and Wisconsin is fourth. The Badgers received one first-place vote. Ohio State is ranked No. 5.
The preseason AP poll started in 1950 and since then only Oklahoma from 1985-87 had started No. 1 in three straight years until now.
Ring up another milestone for coach Nick Saban’s Tide dynasty. Alabama has won five national championships since 2009 and now has been No. 1 to start the season five times under Saban. Last season was the first time Saban’s team started and finished the season No. 1.
The Tide enter this season with a question at quarterback, but there appears to be two good answers from which Saban has to choose: Tua Tagovailoa won the College Football Playoff championship game for Alabama with a second-half comeback and overtime touchdown pass. Jalen Hurts has led the Tide to the national title game in each of his two seasons as a starter.
Whoever is quarterback, Alabama’s offense should be potent with running back Damien Harris working behind a powerful line anchored by tackle Jonah Williams.
The Tide’s always tough defense will have all new starters in the secondary, but defensive end Raekwon Davis and linebackers Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses are primed to be Alabama’s next All-Americans.
No. 1 at being No. 1
The AP poll began in 1936 and Alabama is approaching the top of a very storied list:
Ohio State — 105 weeks at No. 1
Alabama — 104
Oklahoma — 101
Notre Dame — 98
Southern California — 91
Florida State — 72
Nebraska — 70
This is Alabama’s seventh time overall being a preseason No. 1, matching USC for fourth most.
Oklahoma — 10 preseason No. 1 rankings
Ohio State — 8
Alabama — 7
USC — 7
Florida State 6
Nebraska — 6
Urban Meyer’s uncertain status as Ohio State coach cost the Buckeyes some points in the AP poll, and probably at least one rankings spot.
The AP asked voters whether Meyer being on administrative leave as Ohio State investigates what he knew about domestic violence allegations against a former assistant coach influenced how they voted in the preseason poll. Thirteen voters responded saying the uncertainty caused them to move Ohio State down.
“It’s hard not to bump Ohio State down a tick,” said Andy Greder of the St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press. “It’s an undoubted distraction. I feel like going through fall camp without your head coach only adds to it. I gave Wisconsin a corresponding slight bump up.”
Ohio State had 1,256 points, 15 behind Wisconsin (1,271). No. 3 Georgia had 1,350 points.
The deadline for voters to submit preseason ballots was Aug. 13. The AP allowed voters to adjust their votes if any major news happened in college football from the deadline until Aug. 15 at noon.
- No. 2 Clemson matched its best preseason ranking. The Tigers were No. 2 in 2016 and went on to win the national championship.
- No. 4 Wisconsin has its best preseason ranking since 2000, when it was also No. 4. The Badgers also had one first-place vote that year.
- No. 5 Ohio State is making it 30th straight appearance in the preseason rankings (1989-2018). Only Penn State (34) and Nebraska (33) have had longer streaks.
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