The college football season is steadfast approaching and the world took one giant step forward towards that much-anticipated day as the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll was released on Sunday morning.
To the astonishment of few and far between, the Alabama Crimson Tide are the preseason No. 1 in the AP poll. The Tide received 33 first-place votes and only the Clemson Tigers, the No. 2 team in the poll and the club that the Tide rolled in the National Championship game back in January could lay claim to double digit first-place votes as the Tigers received 16.
As the season mows on, Alabama will have an elephant-sized target on their back (Pun so very much intended). Furthermore, as they trek on, they will look to accomplish something that no team has been able to do in over a decade. The last team to go wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the preseason poll and the No. 1 team in the final poll of the season was the USC Trojans who accomplished the feat in 2004. Will the Tide have the moxie to pull it off? You’d be hard pressed to doubt Nick Saban at this point but the rigors of college football are unkind to everyone.
The storylines aren’t just revolving around Alabama though. Make no mistake about it. The LSU Tigers and Tennessee Volunteers joined the Tide in the Top 10 as they come in ranked No. 5 and No. 9 respectively. Between the two teams, LSU was the team to receive a first-place vote while Tennessee amassed none but were still able to slot themselves within the Top 10.
Both come in with high expectations and a strong assembly of talent, with the Volunteers looking to get back to Atlanta for the first time in nearly a decade while the Tigers figure to be a College Football Playoff contender with a loaded roster and the best running back in the country in Leonard Fournette.
The Top 10 wasn’t the only place that the SEC was featured in. On the contrary. Six teams in total were scattered across the AP Top 25 at No. 11, No. 18, and No. 25. The Ole Miss Rebels, led by preseason All-SEC quarterback Chad Kelly, missed the cut to make the Top 10 but lead off the 11-20 crowd. Meanwhile, seven spots down, Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs find themselves at No. 18. Nick Chubb could very well see the field in the opener against North Carolina and with an assortment of talent still in Athens, they could make a strong push to shoot up the rankings as the season goes on.
No. 25 is the defending SEC East Champion Florida Gators. Jim McElwain tabbed Luke Del Rio to be the starting quarterback earlier in the week and Del Rio will be given the keys to lead a Florida offense that last year was relatively inefficient. But another year with a loaded defense could make the Gators no easy bear to mess with.