In this Jan. 8, 2018, file photo, Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) celebrates his touchdown during overtime of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Georgia, in Atlanta. The AP preseason Top 25 is out, and for the third straight year Alabama is No. 1. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)In this Jan. 8, 2018, file photo, Alabama head coach Nick Saban celebrates after overtime of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Georgia, in Atlanta. The AP preseason Top 25 is out, and for the third straight year Alabama is No. 1. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)In this Jan. 8, 2018, file photo, Alabama head coach Nick Saban leads his team on the field before the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Georgia, in Atlanta. The AP preseason Top 25 is out, and for the third straight year Alabama is No. 1. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
Alabama will begin its quest for a second consecutive national championship with a rare three-peat.
The Crimson Tide is just the second team to be ranked No. 1 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll for three straight seasons. Alabama received 42 out of 61 first-place votes.
No. 2 Clemson received 18 first-place votes. Georgia is No. 3 and Wisconsin is fourth. The Badgers received one first-place vote. Ohio State was ranked No. 5.
The preseason AP poll started in 1950 and since then only Oklahoma from 1985-87 had started No. 1 in three straight years until now.
Ring up another milestone for coach Nick Saban’s Tide dynasty. Alabama has won five national championships since 2009 and now has been No. 1 to start the season five times under Saban. Last season was the first time Saban’s team started and finished the season No. 1.
The Tide enter this season with a question at quarterback, but there appears to be two good answers from which Saban has to choose: Tua Tagovailoa won the College Football Playoff championship game for Alabama with a second-half comeback and overtime touchdown pass. Jalen Hurts has led the Tide to the national title game in each of his two seasons as a starter.
Whoever is quarterback, Alabama’s offense should be potent with running back Damien Harris working behind a powerful line anchored by tackle Jonah Williams.
The Tide’s always tough defense will have all new starters in the secondary, but defensive end Raekwon Davis and linebackers Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses are primed to be Alabama’s next All-Americans.
The machine never stops in Tuscaloosa. One again, everybody is chasing Alabama.
AP TOP 25
1. Alabama (42)
2. Clemson (18)
4. Wisconsin (1)
5. Ohio State
10. Penn State
11. Michigan State
12. Notre Dame
17. West Virginia
18. Mississippi State
19. Florida State
20. Virginia Tech
22. Boise State
Other teams that received votes in the initial poll were South Carolina (96), Florida (68), Utah (60), Oklahoma St. (51), FAU (38), Arizona (28), NC State (22), Texas A&M (21), Boston College (18), Northwestern (13), Kansas St. (10), Iowa St. (8), Houston (6), Memphis (3), Troy (2), Iowa (2), Kentucky (1), Arkansas St. (1), Fresno St. (1).
NO. 1 AT BEING NO. 1
The AP poll began in 1936 and Alabama is approaching the top of a very storied list:
Ohio State — 105 weeks at No. 1
Alabama — 104
Oklahoma — 101
Notre Dame — 98
Southern California — 91
Florida State — 72
Nebraska — 70
This is Alabama’s seventh time overall being a preseason No. 1, matching USC for fourth most.
Oklahoma — 10 preseason No. 1 rankings
Ohio State — 8
Alabama — 7
USC — 7
Florida State 6
Nebraska — 6