Alabama is No. 1 in the preseason Top 25, the first program in 12 years to take the top spot two years in a row.
The Crimson Tide will start the season ranked in the top five of The Associated Press preseason media poll for the ninth consecutive time.
Coach Nick Saban’s program has become the surest thing in sports these days. The Tide does not always win the national championship — just half the time over the last eight years — but is always in contention. Since 2008, only once has Alabama lost more than one game before bowl season.
The Crimson Tide received 52 of 61 first-place votes from media members. Ohio State was No. 2, edging No. 3 Florida State and preventing the first 1 vs. 2 opening game since the preseason poll began in 1950. Alabama opens the season against the Seminoles in Atlanta on Sept. 2, just the fourth opener involving top-five teams and the first pitting teams ranked in the preseason top three.
Southern California, which finished last season on a nine-game winning streak and No. 3 in the country, starts at No. 4. Defending national champion Clemson begins the post-Deshaun Watson era at No. 5. Florida State received four first-place votes, Ohio State got three and USC two.
The one bit of bad news for Alabama? The Tide has failed to win the national championship the three previous times it was preseason No. 1 under Saban. The last team to start and finish No. 1 was USC in 2004, and the Trojans were ranked No. 1 the following season — the last team to do it before this year.