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 was 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.
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.
The machine never stops in Tuscaloosa. One again, everybody is chasing Alabama.
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
THE OTHER CHAMPS
Central Florida was the only team in the country to go undefeated last season and — you might have heard — the school decided to declare the Knights national champions because why not? This is college football and nobody is really in charge.