The Clemson Tigers will enter the 2020 college football season as the No. 1 team in America after the school took the top spot in the initial Amway Coaches Poll.
USA Today Sports released the poll on Thursday, with Clemson earning 38 of the 65 first-place votes.
Ohio State, Alabama Follow Clemson in Preseason Rankings
Clemson lost to LSU in the national championship game last season, after winning the title in the 2018 campaign. Junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence leads the Tigers and comes into the season as one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. William Hill lists Lawrence as the +400 second choice behind Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields (+350).
“I feel like through my two years I’ve been through about every different situation you could be in,” Lawrence told USA Today. “It sucks not getting to finish the way you wanted to, but we’re going to be fine. We’re going to be back.”
Ohio State enters the year as the No. 2 team in the Coaches Poll. The Buckeyes picked up 17 first-place votes, and come into the season as -270 favorites to win the Big Ten championship.
“We want to win a Big Ten championship,” Fields told reporters on a teleconference this week. “Then we want to go on and win the first game of the playoff, and then win the national championship. I think that is what the team is focused on the most right now, just getting better each and every day, and treating every day like it’s our last day.”
Alabama took the third spot in the Coaches Poll, picking up four first-place votes. Defending champion LSU took six first-place votes, but is fifth overall in the poll, behind fellow SEC school Georgia.
Oklahoma, Penn State, Florida, Oregon, and Notre Dame round out the preseason top 10.
Coaches Poll Mirrors Betting Odds
The Coaches Poll rankings align surprisingly well with what sportsbooks are offering on the national championship futures market. William Hill lists Clemson (+250), Ohio State (+320), Alabama (+500), Georgia (+800), and LSU (+1000) as the top five picks to win the title this year. While the exact odds differ, you can find the same ordering at FanDuel and DraftKings as well.
These odds could change dramatically depending on how COVID-19 impacts the college football season. Earlier this week, UConn became the first FBS school to opt out of the 2020 season, citing health and safety concerns – along with the difficulties in putting together a season as an independent school – in announcing its decision.
Major conferences have altered their schedules in an effort to gain more control over the coming season. Most of the Power 5 has switched to a conference-only scheduling model, though the ACC opted to play one non-conference game as well. The varying number of games – and the likelihood of at least some cancelations and postponements during the season – will complicate the job of the College Football Playoff committee, especially if some leading candidates end up playing significantly shortened schedules.