For the third time in five years, Alabama tops the preseason Amway Coaches Poll. Ohio State, Florida State, USC and Clemson round out the top five.
The Crimson tide lost 35-31 to Clemson in last year’s College Football Playoff title game in what was an instant classic. Alabama lost a slew of key defensive players but return starting quarterback Jalen Hurts, running back Bo Scarbrough and receiver Calvin Ridley. Alabama opens the season by hosting No. 3 Florida State.
Ohio State made the College Football Playoff last season before being shut out 31–0 by Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl. Florida State returns with questionmarks on offense, but a strong defense led by Derwin James.
Clemson’s quest to repeat will be led by someone other than two-time Heisman finalist DeShaun Watson. Kelly Bryant, Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson will compete for the starting quarterback spot for the Tigers, who open vs. Penn State.
USC’s Playoff hopes rest in large part on to sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold, who could well be the top pick in next year’s draft. After beginning the year as the backup, Darnold led the Trojans to eight straight victories and a remarkable comeback victory over Penn State in the Rose Bowl. USC hosts Western Michigan in Week 1.
Michigan checks in at No. 9, while Texas is at No. 23 in its first season under Tom Herman.
South Florida, led by former Texas head coach Charlie Strong, is the lone non-Big 5 conference team to make the preseason ranking. The Bulls are coming off an 11-2 season that was capped by 46-39 overtime win over South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl.
2. Ohio State
3. Florida State
6. Penn State
11. Oklahoma State
19. Kansas State
20. West Virginia
21. South Florida
22. Virginia Tech