Alabama is No. 1 in the Associated Press preseason college football poll for the second season and ninth time overall, receiving 54 of 63 first-place votes from the media panel in the AP Top 25 College Football Poll released Monday.
Alabama’s preseason No. 1 AP ranking is the program’s seventh in 15 years under head coach Nick Saban. Since the preseason rankings started in 1950, only Oklahoma (10 times) has been No. 1 in the initial poll more often than Alabama.
However, the top preseason ranking has rarely equated to title success for Alabama. The Crimson Tide has only won the national championship after being the preseason No. 1 just once under Saban and twice overall.
Still, they are led by Heisman-winning quarterback Bryce Young and national defensive player of the year Will Anderson Jr., and poll voters are clearly expecting the Crimson Tide to again contend for a title after losing in last season’s national championship game.
Coming in at No. 2 is Ohio State, which received six first-place votes, followed by defending national champion Georgia at No. 3, which received the remaining three first-place votes.
Clemson is next at No. 4, while Notre Dame rounds out the top five, setting up an appetizing matchup in the season opener between the Fighting Irish and No. 2 Ohio State.
Texas A&M is the highest-ranked area school, coming in at No. 6 in the preseason AP Top 25 College Football Poll for the second consecutive season.
Last season was up and down for the Aggies. After handing Alabama their only regular season loss, A&M nosedived, finishing outside the Top 25 with an 8-4 record.
Voters have faith in the Aggies, giving them the second-best preseason AP ranking ever for a team that finished the previous season unranked.
Ohio State was No. 3 in the 1972 preseason poll after being unranked at the end of the 1971 season, and Notre Dame also started No. 6 in 1983 after finishing unranked in 1982. Ohio State went 9-2 and finished the season ranked No. 9, while the Irish went 7-5 and finished unranked again.
The Big 12 Conference performs well in the poll, especially considering future members.
About a year ago, the revelation of the impending defection of Texas and Oklahoma to the Southeastern Conference (SEC) caused grave concerns for the Big 12’s future existence.
The Big 12 now has three teams in the top 12, No. 9 Oklahoma, No. 10 Baylor, and No. 12 Oklahoma State. Further down the rankings are No. 23 Cincinnati, No. 24 Houston, and No. 25 BYU, who will all join the Big 12 in 2023.
That gives the Big 12 conference six total teams in the rankings between current and future members, matching the SEC for the most.
The AP Poll also highlights the polarity of Texas. The Longhorns, who finished 5-7 last season, were ranked No. 18 in the preseason Coaches Poll released last week and even received one first-place vote from a coach.
The AP Top 25 College Football Poll shows the University of Texas not breaking into the Top 25 and instead is listed as the second team in the “others receiving votes” category.