For the first time in school history, Clemson is No. 1 in the AP Preseason Top 25 college football poll. The Tigers defeated Alabama in the 2019 National Championship game, 44-16. It was the school’s second title in three years.

Clemson won the 2019 National Championship in football, and is No. 1 in the 2019 AP Preseason Top 25 Poll. (Image: Bay Area News)

That was a big reason the Tigers received 52 of the 62 first-place votes. The Crimson Tide got the other 10 top votes. Both programs are 9/4 to win the National Championship, and were also in the same spots in the Coaches Poll.

Though the honor of being the top-ranked team going into the season, which kicks off Aug. 29 against Georgia Tech, is a first for Clemson, head coach Dabo Swinney isn’t particularly impressed with the distinction.

“It just doesn’t matter,” Swinney said Monday after practice about being preseason No. 1. “Unless they bring us a trophy.”

Soft Schedule Criticized

Clemson could easily become the third team to start the preseason poll No. 1 and be at the top every week of the season. The other two teams that accomplished that feat are Florida State in 1999, and USC in 2004. If they stumble and get knocked off the No. 1 spot, they could still become the 12th team to start and finish at No. 1.

AP Top 25 Preseason Poll

Rank  Team        Conference           Votes                  2018 Record

1       Clemson           ACC               1,540 (52*)               15-0

2       Alabama           SEC                1,496 (10*)              14-1

3       Georgia            SEC                1,403                       11-3

4       Oklahoma        Big 12             1,331                        12-2

5       Ohio State        Big 10             1,261                        13-1

6       LSU                  SEC                1,199                        10-3

7       Michigan           Big 10             1,164                        10-3

8       Florida              SEC                1,054                        10-3

9       Notre Dame      Independent   1,044                        12-1

10     Texas               Big 12              1,005                        10-4

11     Oregon             Pac 12              860                          9-4

12     Texas A&M      SEC                  852                          9-4

13     Washington      Pac 12             786                          10-4

14     Utah                 Pac 12             772                           9-5

15     Penn State       Big 10              651                           9-4

16     Auburn             SEC                 578                           8-5

17     UCF                 American         410                          12-1

18     Mich.State       Big 10             377                            7-6

19     Wisconsin        Big 10              370                           8-5

20     Iowa                 Big 10             330                            9-4

21     Iowa State        Big 12             302                           8-5

22     Syracuse          ACC               209                          10-3

23     Wash. State     Pac 12            200                          11-2

24     Nebraska         Big 10             154                           4-8

25     Stanford           Pac 12            141                           9-4

*Denotes first-place votes  

 

The Tigers’ schedule has been criticized by some as been way to easy. They only play two teams (No. 12 Texas A&M and No. 22 Syracuse) that are ranked in the top 25.

Swinney bristled recently about the lack of competition, especially in his conference, the ACC.

“There’s no lack of competition in our league,” Swinney said. “There’s a reason we’ve won two out of the last three national championships and it’s not because we don’t play anybody. We’ve played everybody. We’ve played Alabama three times in national championships. We’ve played Ohio State, Oklahoma, we play Texas A&M, we play South Carolina every year. Our league, I think we had 11 bowl teams this year, 10 the year before, 11 the year before that. Our league is incredibly competitive and deep.”

While the strength of the ACC is debatable, Swinney doesn’t have much ground to defend his nonconference schedule. The Tigers play Charlotte, who were 5-7 last year, as well as Wofford, who are in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.

Alabama, Others Waiting

Both Clemson and Alabama bring back their starting quarterbacks. The Tigers’ Trevor Lawrence, and the Crimson Tide’s Tua Tagovailoa are both the 3/1 favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.

Alabama’s schedule is a little more difficult than Clemson’s. They play three teams in the Top 25, including No. 6 LSU, No. 12 Texas A&M, and No. 16 Auburn.

The rest of the teams in the Top 10 include, No. 3 Georgia, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 5 Ohio State, No. 6 LSU, No. 7 Michigan, No. 8 Florida, No. 9 Notre Dame, and No. 10 Texas.

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