The prospect of successfully conducting a college football season in 2020 remains something of an exercise in wishful thinking. Even if it does happen, it is sure to be a season unique to those that have come before. In that spirit, we present the preseason Amway Coaches Poll as a sign of hope that there will be actual results to consider later.
Clemson earns the nod as the preseason No. 1 team for the second consecutive year after never previously holding that position before games started. The Tigers, firmly established as fixtures in the College Football Playoff era, managed a runner-up finish a year ago but still picked up the majority of first-place votes, topping 38 of the 65 coaches’ ballots. They again will be led by quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who is hoping to add a second national title before his expected departure to the NFL.
Ohio State starts at No. 2. The defending Big Ten champion Buckeyes, who came up just short against Clemson in a playoff semifinal a season ago, received 17 No. 1 votes. They boast their own Heisman candidate to rival Lawrence with junior Justin Fields at the controls.
The rest of the top five is occupied by the SEC. Perennial contender Alabama heads the group at No. 3. The Crimson Tide picked up four first-place votes, although last year’s 11-2 campaign that ended without a playoff appearance was a down year by the impossibly high standards in Tuscaloosa. Georgia, which has ruled the roost in the East Division for the past three seasons, follows at No. 4.
The No. 5 slot belongs to defending national champion LSU. With a ton of talent off to the NFL from last year’s record-smashing team including Heisman winner Joe Burrow, the Tigers have the lowest preseason rank of any defending champion since 2011, when Auburn was picked only 19th in the preseason after Cam Newton’s departure. Nevertheless, LSU did receive six No. 1 votes, reflecting a school of thought that the champs stay No. 1 until they lose.
Oklahoma, once again the Big 12 favorite seeking a sixth consecutive league crown, begin at No. 6, followed by Penn State and Florida. No. 9 Oregon is the highest ranked Pac-12 squad, and honorary ACC member Notre Dame rounds out the top 10.
With Auburn at No. 11 and Texas A&M opening at No. 13, the SEC begins with six ranked squads in all. The Big Ten also has six members in the top 25. The ACC, with Notre Dame part of the mix this year, is tied with the Big 12 with four ranked squads.
No. 21 Central Florida and No. 22 Cincinnati of the American are the only Group of Five conference representatives to crack the poll.
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