The defending national champion Clemson Tigers start the season the way they finished in January -- atop the Amway Coaches Poll.
The Tigers received 59 of 65 first-place votes in the poll, released Thursday, giving them the top spot in the preseason coaches ranking for the first time in school history. No. 2 Alabama received the other first-place votes.
The 1-2 ranking for Clemson and Alabama comes as little surprise heading into the season, as both teams are favorites to make it back to the College Football Playoff, with the potential to meet for the fifth straight time in the playoffs. The programs have split the past four national championships.
One of the biggest reasons so many expect them to make a run at another title hinges on their respective quarterbacks. Trevor Lawrence returns to Clemson, while Tua Tagovailoa is ready to put his performance in the national championship game behind him to lead Alabama again.
If Nick Saban needs any extra motivation to give his team, beyond its 44-16 loss to the Tigers in January, this one might work: This is the first time since 2015 that Alabama is not No. 1 in the preseason coaches poll.
As for the rest of the top five, Georgia will start the season at No. 3, while Oklahoma is No. 4 and Ohio State is No. 5. The same five teams also opened the 2018 season in the preseason Top 5. Three of them -- Clemson, Alabama and Oklahoma -- made the playoff.
As for conference breakdown, the Big Ten leads the way with seven ranked teams, followed by the SEC with six. Washington is the highest-ranked Pac-12 team, at No. 12. Among the Power 5 conferences, the ACC has the fewest ranked teams, with two.
The only ranked Group of 5 team is UCF, checking in at No. 17. The Knights, expected to start Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush at quarterback, are attempting to go undefeated in the regular season for the third straight year.