The defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide is back atop the rankings, sitting at No. 1 in college football’s preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll, released Monday, with the Oklahoma Sooners and Clemson Tigers ranking second and third, respectively.
Alabama received 47 out of a possible 63 first-place votes from the panel of sportswriters and broadcasters from around the country.
It’s the fourth time in the past six years that Alamaba has entered the season in the top spot.
Oklahoma and Clemson each received six first-place votes.
Ohio State, which lost to Alabama in the 2020 championship game, ranks fourth, and Georgia, which received three first-place votes, lands at No. 5.
With Texas A&M sitting at No. 6, the mighty Southeastern Conference boasts three of the top six teams in the county.
Alabama demolished Ohio State 52-24 in last season’s national championship game. DeVonta Smith, the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner, racked up 12 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone. The win capped off an undefeated season for Alabama, which went a perfect 13-0. Smith and his quarterback Mac Jones, as well as Bama’s starting running back Najee Harris, were all selected within the first 25 picks of the 2021 NFL draft. Yet head coach Nick Saban has a bevy of top-tier recruits to replace his outgoing stars. Sophomore Bryce Young, the team’s new starting quarterback, will be flanked by elite running back prospect Brian Robinson and wide receiver John Metchie. According to the AP, over the past 70 years, only 11 teams that started No. 1 have ended the season as No. 1, with the 2017 Crimson Tide being the last team to lay claim to that notable achievement.
The 2021 season will be the first since the NCAA approved an interim policy enabling athletes to benefit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) without jeopardizing their college eligibility. Last month, Saban claimed that Young is closing in on $1 million in total NIL sponsorship money. “Our quarterback already has approached ungodly numbers — I’m not going to say what they are — and he hasn’t even played yet,” Saban said. “It’s almost seven figures. And it’s like, the guy hasn’t even played yet. But that’s because of our brand.”
What To Watch For:
Alabama begins what they hope will be a run toward another title on Sept. 4 when they take on the 14th-ranked Miami Hurricanes. Two other top-5 teams will open up their season against each other in Week 1, as No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 5 Georgia will square off in Charlotte.
The Associated Press first began its college football poll on Oct. 19, 1936.
10. That’s the number of times Oklahoma has been ranked No.1 in the AP preseason rankings, the most among all college football programs. Alabama and Ohio State have each been awarded the top spot eight times.