Alabama, Clemson

As expected, the first preseason poll puts Alabama on top of the rankings, favorites to defend their national title. They were among seven teams, including Clemson, Oklahoma, Florida State, LSU, Ohio State and Michigan to receive first place votes.

The rankings were led with six SEC teams, including three in the top 10. They’re followed by five Pac-12 teams (one in the top 10), four from the Big Ten, ACC and Big 12. The American conference has one representative, and Notre Dame, as usual, are the sole independent team on the preseason rankings.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (33 first place votes): The SEC and national champions, beating Clemson in the CFP final. They went 14-1, their only loss coming against Ole Miss.

2. Clemson Tigers (16): The Tigers won the ACC, going 8-0 through the conference. They beat Oklahoma in the CFP semifinal, losing 45-40 to Alabama in the championship game.

3. Oklahoma Sooners (4): Finished the season ranked #5, going 11-2. They won the Big 12 with one regular season loss, losing to Clemson in the CFP semifinal.

4. Florida State Seminoles (5): Were ranked #14 at the end of the season, going 10-3, losing their bowl game to Houston.

5. LSU Tigers (1): LSU went 9-3 last season, beating Texas Tech in the bowl game, earning them a #16 final ranking.

6. Ohio State Buckeyes (1): The Buckeyes ended up being ranked #4 overall, losing just one game (to Michigan State), costing them a trip to the Big Ten title game. They beat Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.

7. Michigan Wolverines (1): Jim Harbaugh’s first year ended with a #12 ranking, going 10-3, destroying Florida 41-7 in the Citrus Bowl.

8. Stanford Cardinal: A 12-2 season, with the Pac-12 title, the Rose Bowl won, and the #3 overall ranking.

9. Tennessee Volunteers: Quite the expectations from the Vols, going 9-4 last season to end up with a #22 ranking, crushing Northwestern 45-6 in the Outback Bowl.

10. Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Finished the season with a loss to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. Their record was 10-3, ranked #11 at the end of the year.

11. Ole Miss Rebels: A 10-3 season, including 6-2 in the SEC, resulting in a Sugar Bowl victory over Oklahoma State, and a final #10 ranking.

12. Michigan State Spartans: Won the Big Ten but got shutout by the eventual national champions, Alabama, in the CFP semifinal, resulting in a #6 ranking. They were 12-2 overall.

13. TCU Horned Frogs: Finished with a #7 ranking after a 11-2 season, beating Oregon 47-41 in the Alamo Bowl.

14. Washington Huskies: Were only 7-6 last season, finishing it with a win over Southern Miss in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

15. Houston Cougars: A 13-1 season that ended with a American Conference title and beating Florida State in the Peach Bowl, resulting in a #8 final ranking.

16. UCLA Bruins: Were only 8-5 last year, finishing the season unranked, losing to Nebraska 37-29 in the Foster Farms Bowl to end the season.

17. Iowa Hawkeyes: Won the West in the Big Ten and lost in the conference title game. Made it to the Rose Bowl, where they got crushed by Stanford. Record was 12-2, ranked #9 in the end.

18. Georgia Bulldogs: Mark Richt’s final season, going 10-3, finishing with a win over Penn State in the TaxSlayer Bowl.

19. Louisville Cardinals: Were 8-5 last season, finishing on a high with two wins over SEC teams, including beating Texas A&M in the Music City Bowl.

20. USC Trojans: Replaced another head coach, still made it to the Pac-12 title game but lost to Stanford. Lost to Wisconsin in the Holiday Bowl, finishing 8-6 overall, losing three of their final four games.

21. Oklahoma State Cowboys: Earned a #20 ranking after a 10-3 season, losing their final three games of the season, including their bowl game to Ole Miss.

22. North Carolina Tar Heels: Went 8-0 in conference play, but lost to Clemson in the ACC title game, and then were beaten by Baylor in the Russell Athletic Bowl, ending with a #20 ranking and 10-3 overall record.

23. Baylor Bears: A turbulent offseason didn’t drop them from the rankings, after a 10-3 season including a bowl game win over North Carolina, and a final #13 ranking.

24. Oregon Ducks: Lost their bowl game to TCU to finish the season 9-4, getting a #19 ranking.

25. Florida Gators: Had a bounce back season, going 10-4 overall and 7-1 in the SEC. Lost to Alabama in the SEC title game, followed by losing to Michigan in the bowl game.

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