Sports

Breaking down preseason AP No. 1 vs. national champion since 2000

Do preseason polls matter? 

Alabama opened at No. 1 in the Preseason AP Top 25 for the second straight year, but it’s the end result that matters. 

In the past 21 college football seasons, the team that opened as the Preseason No. 1 has won the national championship two times. Alabama is the last team to do it, in 2017. USC also started and finished No. 1 in 2017. 

Alabama was ranked No. 3 in last season’s preseason poll before winning the national championship. This marks the sixth time the Crimson Tide have opened at No. 1 under Nick Saban.  

MORE: SN Preseason Top 25

In 209, LSU became the sixth national champion in the past 20 years that was ranked outside the top five in the Preseason AP Top 25. 

Here’s a look at the AP preseason No. 1 teams since 2000 and where they finished, along with the national champion since 2000 and where it started the season.

2000 

Preseason No. 1: Nebraska (finished No. 8) 
National Champion: Oklahoma (preseason No. 19) 

2001  

Preseason No. 1: Florida (finished No. 3)  
National Champion: Miami, Fla. (preseason No. 2) 

2002  

Preseason No. 1: Miami, Fla. (finished No. 2)  
National Champion: Ohio State (preseason No. 13)  

2003 

Preseason No. 1: Oklahoma (finished No. 3) 
National Champion: USC (preseason No. 8) 

2004

Preseason No. 1: USC
National Champion: USC 

2005 

Preseason No. 1: USC (finished No. 2) 
National Champion: Texas (preseason No. 2) 

2006 

Preseason No. 1: Ohio State (finished No. 2) 
National Champion: Florida (preseason No. 7) 

2007 

Preseason No. 1: USC (finished No. 3) 
National Champion: LSU (preseason No. 2) 

2008 

Preseason No. 1: Georgia (finished No. 13) 
National Champion: Florida (preseason No. 5) 

2009  

Preseason No. 1: Florida (finished No. 3) 
National Champion: Alabama (preseason No. 5)

2010 

Preseason No. 1: Alabama (finished No. 10) 
National Champion: Auburn (preseason No. 22) 

2011 

Preseason No. 1: Oklahoma (finished No. 16) 
National Champion: Alabama (preseason No. 2) 

2012  

Preseason No. 1: USC (finished unranked) 
National Champion: Alabama (preseason No. 2) 

2013 

Preseason No. 1: Alabama (finished No. 7) 
National Champion: Florida State (preseason No. 11) 

2014

Preseason No. 1: Florida State (finished No. 5) 
National champion: Ohio State (preseason No. 5)

2015

Preseason No. 1: Ohio State (finished No. 4) 
National champion: Alabama (preseason No. 3) 

2016

Preseason No. 1:  Alabama (finished No. 2) 
National champion:  Clemson (preseason No. 2) 

2017

Preseason No. 1:  Alabama
National champion:  Alabama

2018

Preseason No. 1: Alabama (finished No. 2) 
National champion: Clemson (preseason No. 2)

2019

Preseason No. 1:  Clemson (finished No. 2) 
National champion:  LSU (preseason No. 6) 

2020

Preseason No. 1: Clemson 
National champion: Alabama (preseason No. 3)