To the surprise of no one who even casually follows college football, Alabama was ranked the No. 1 team in the first Associated Press Top 25 poll for the 2018 season. The Crimson Tide joined Oklahoma (1985-87) as the only programs to start three consecutive seasons as the top-ranked team.

Alabama football
For the third consecutive year, Alabama is the No. 1 preseason team in the AP Top 25 poll. (Image: Getty)

This is the seventh time Alabama has been the preseason pick, since the AP preseason poll began in 1950. The ranking tied them with USC for the third most. Ohio State has eight and Oklahoma has 10. The college poll has been around since 1936, and Alabama only needs one more week at No. 1 to tied Ohio State for the most weeks at the top spot. OSU has 105 weeks, Alabama 104, Oklahoma 101, and Notre Dame 98.

Though coach Nick Saban’s team is atop the rankings, it wasn’t exactly a mandate by voters. They received 42 first-place votes and had 1,505 points. Clemson garnered 18 first-place votes and are just 29 points behind at 1,476.

The No. 2 ranking for the Tigers matched their best preseason ranking. The 2016 Clemson team was also No. 2 before the season, and ended up winning the National Championship.

‘Bama Holding Steady, Clemson Closing In

Could Clemson repeat history from two years ago? They have seen their odds to win the College Football title improve in recent months. When the lines were released in January by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, the Tigers were a 6/1 pick.

By July they had improved to 9/2, along with Ohio State. Monday’s odds were even better. Clemson is now a 4/1 pick to win the final game of the season on January 7, 2019.

Of course as they have gotten better odds, so has Alabama. The Crimson Tide was the 5/2 favorite in January, and put at 7/4 in July. There are still at 7/4 at the Westgate, but other sportsbooks have them as low as 11/10.

Big Ten, SEC Marching South

In addition to Alabama, Georgia at No. 3, and Auburn at No. 9 cracked the top 10. Georgia ended last year as No. 2, losing a heartbreaker in the National Championship game to Alabama. It was the Crimson Tide’s five title in nine years.

Georgia, who is a 6/1 pick to win the College Football Playoffs, had one of the top recruiting classes in the country. They are projected to win 10.5 regular season games.

Auburn is the third SEC team in the top 10. They are ranked ninth. The Tigers are 25/1 to win the national championship, and their line of regular season victories is set at 9.5.

Wisconsin, who received the only other first-place vote, is No. 4. The Badgers have seen their odds improve the most of the top 10 teams. They began as a 25/1 pick to win the title, then went to 20/1, and are now at 10/1.

Bettors have been shying away from Ohio State until the future of coach Urban Meyer is known. The school said a decision should come on Wednesday regarding Meyer’s handling of a his assistant coach, who was accused of domestic violence.

The Buckeyes had their title odds at 9/2 in July, but once the news broke, the odds rose to 6/1.

The final team from the Big 10 in the top 10 is Penn State. The Nittany Lions, who are 25/1 to win the national championship, are No. 10.