For the second straight year, Alabama will start the college football season as the top-ranked team.
The Tide received 52 of 61 first-place votes from the media panel and 1,513 points in the poll released Monday. Alabama is coming off a last-second loss in the national championship game that left it No. 2 to Clemson in the final Top 25 of 2016.
Alabama is the No. 1 team in The Associated Press preseason Top 25 for the sixth time in history and fourth time under coach Nick Saban. The Tide’s streak of nine straight top-five preseason rankings is second only to that of Florida State, which had a run of 11 straight seasons starting in the top five under former coach Bobby Bowden.
Ohio State is ranked second, receiving three first-place votes and 1,414 points. The Buckeyes are No. 2 in the preseason poll for the eighth time, one behind Oklahoma for most times starting the season second. Ohio State also extended the longest current streak of years appearing in the preseason Top 25 to 29. Penn State has the record at 34 from 1968 to 2002.
Saban’s program has become among the surest things in sports these days. The Tide do not always win the national championship — just half the time over the past eight years — but are always in contention. Since 2008, only once has Alabama lost more than one game before bowl season.
The one bit of bad news for Alabama? The Tide have failed to win the national championship the three previous times they were 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.
Also receiving top votes were No. 3 Florida State (four) and No. 4 USC (two), which finished last season on a nine-game winning streak. 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 top three.
Alabama is the only Southeastern Conference team in the top 10, but the SEC still leads the way with six teams in the Top 25. Auburn is No. 12 and LSU is right behind at 13. SEC East rivals Georgia (No. 15) and Florida (No. 17) follow and Tennessee is No. 25.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.