No voters expects Georgia to win the national championship in 2019. That’s the most notable observation from the Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll presented by Regions Bank, which was released Monday. That the Bulldogs were selected third came as no surprise. They were also third in the USA Today Coaches poll that was released two weeks ago and have been picked in that position in the majority of the other preseason predictions that have been released over the summer.
There are 62 media members who vote in the AP poll and 52 of them tabbed defending national champion Clemson as No. 1. The other 10 went with Alabama, which was also second in the coaches’ poll. Still, the consensus Top 3 selection places Georgia on some historically high ground. The Bulldogs have never been ranked in the top five of a preseason AP poll in consecutive years. Last year, USA Today had Georgia at No. 4 and the AP ranked it No. 3. Kirby Smart’s third team finished eighth and seventh, respectively, with an 11-3 final record.
Meanwhile, third is the highest preseason ranking for the Bulldogs since 2008, when they opened the year ranked No. 1 in both the USA Today and AP polls. Georgia finished 10th and 13th, respectively, that season.
Cross off another milestone for Clemson, college football’s newest superpower.
For the first time, the defending national champion Tigers are No. 1 in the AP poll after winning the program’s second national title in three seasons behind freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence in January. Clemson now can claim equal standing with Alabama at the top of the sport.
The Crimson Tide, coming off a 44-16 loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff championship, is No. 2. Clemson received 52 first-place votes and Alabama received the other 10 from the media. Clemson snaps a record-tying string of three straight years in which Alabama was preseason No. 1.
Clemson, Alabama and Georgia are followed by No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 5 Ohio State.
The Tigers enter 2019 with a 15-game winning streak and eight straight double-digit victory seasons. Since 2015, when they lost the national championship game to Alabama, the Tigers are 55-4. Last season’s championship made Dabo Swinney’s Clemson team just the 12th school with at least three AP titles since the poll started in 1936.
Nick Saban’s Alabama dynasty, with five national titles in a 10-year span, has finally met its match. The Tide also is 55-4 in the last four seasons.
Clemson and Alabama have split the last four national championships. This will be the third time since 2016 the Tigers and Tide have started the season Nos. 1 and 2 in the Top 25. The Tide and Tigers have been Nos. 1 and 2 in some order 22 times.
The Top 25
1. Clemson (52)
2. Alabama (10)
5. Ohio State
9. Notre Dame
12. Texas A&M
15. Penn State
18. Michigan State
21. Iowa State
23. Washington State
Others receiving votes: Missouri 117, Army 94, Mississippi St. 87, Miami 70, Northwestern 63, TCU 57, Virginia 44, Boise St. 38, Cincinnati 16, South Carolina 15, Virginia Tech 12, Fresno State 8, Utah State 8, Minnesota 7, Memphis 6, Appalachian State 5, UAB 3, West Virginia 3, Oklahoma State 3, Arizona State 3, Arizona 1, Southern Cal 1.