The 2017 defending champion Alabama Crimson Tide were announced as preseason No. 1 in the first AP Top 25 of the new season. Last year, Alabama became just the 11th of the previous 68 preseason No. 1 teams to finish the season where they began, atop the poll raising the championship trophy in Atlanta. The Tide were just the fourth team in the past 25 years to accomplish the feat.

Of the 11 teams to start and end the year in the No. 1 spot, just six programs have done so. Oklahoma tops the list, accomplishing it four times (1956, ’74, ’75, and ’85), while Alabama (1978, 2017) joined Florida State (1993, ’99) to pull it off twice. Tennessee (1951), Michigan State (1952), and USC (2004) also held the No. 1 spot at season’s start and finish. 

The most common finishes for preseason favorites, since the poll’s debut in 1950, has been Nos. 1 and 3 (11 times each). Thirteen preseason favorites have finished outside the top 10, including six that failed to crack the final poll.

THE FULL PRESEASON AP TOP 25

The most recent program to hold down the No. 1 spot at season’s start and finish before 2017 Alabama was USC in 2004. The Trojans also had the last unranked finish for a preseason No. 1 back in 2012.

Below is how each favorite in the annual AP preseason Top 25 finished. Twenty-two different programs have claimed the top spot in the poll’s history:







































































YEAR PRESEASON NO. 1 FINAL RANK
1950 Notre Dame NR
1951 Tennessee 1
1952 Michigan State 1
1953 Notre Dame 2
1954 Notre Dame 4
1955 UCLA 4
1956 Oklahoma 1
1957 Oklahoma 4
1958 Ohio State 8
1959 LSU 3
1960 Syracuse T-19
1961 Iowa NR
1962 Ohio State NR
1963 USC NR
1964 Mississippi NR
1965 Nebraska 5
1966 Alabama 3
1967 Notre Dame 5
1968 Purdue 10
1969 Ohio State 4
1970 Ohio State 5
1971 Notre Dame 13
1972 Nebraska 4
1973 USC 8
1974 Oklahoma 1
1975 Oklahoma 1
1976 Nebraska 9
1977 Oklahoma 7
1978 Alabama 1
1979 USC 2
1980 Ohio State 15
1981 Michigan 12
1982 Pittsburgh 10
1983 Nebraska 2
1984 Auburn  14
1985 Oklahoma 1
1986 Oklahoma 3
1987 Oklahoma 3
1988 Florida State 3
1989 Michigan 7
1990 Miami (Fla.) 3
1991 Florida State 4
1992 Miami (Fla.)  3
1993 Florida State 1
1994 Florida  7
1995 Florida State 4
1996 Nebraska  6
1997 Penn State 16
1998 Ohio State 2
1999 Florida State 1
2000 Nebraska 8
2001 Florida 3
2002 Miami (Fla.) 2
2003 Oklahoma 3
2004 USC 1
2005 USC 2
2006 Ohio State 2
2007 USC 3
2008 Georgia 13
2009 Florida 3
2010 Alabama 10
2011 Oklahoma 16
2012 USC NR
2013 Alabama 7
2014 Florida State 5
2015 Ohio State 4
2016 Alabama 2
2017 Alabama 1
2018 Alabama ???

Oklahoma leads this list with 10 preseason No. 1 rankings and four national titles in such years. Ohio State (eight) is second on the list with Alabama joining USC (seven apiece) as the next closest in preseason No. 1 rankings, followed by Florida State and Nebraska (both with six). 

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For the Crimson Tide, 2017 was the second year they started and ended the year No. 1. Alabama also did so in 1978.

Three of the past four preseason favorites have appeared in that year’s respective College Football Playoff field. Alabama’s 2017 squad was the first to win the national title.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NCAA or its member institutions.

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