For the fourth time under head coach Nick Saban, the Alabama Crimson Tide will begin a college football season as the No. 1 team in the Associated Press Top 25.
The defending SEC champions received 52 first-place votes from the AP voters, easily pulling away from No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Florida State. Both the Buckeyes and Seminoles received first-place votes, as did No. 4 USC. But none of those schools received more than four first-place votes from the voters. Alabama and Florida State meet in Week 1 next week in Atlanta.
Defending national champion Clemson was left without a first-place vote, but still starts the year highly-ranked at No. 5. They are followed by Penn State, fresh off a Big Ten championship from last season. Defending Pac-12 champion and College Football Playoff participant Washington starts the year at No. 8, one spot behind the defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma Sooners with a first-year head coach in Lincoln Riley. Oklahoma travels to Columbus, Ohio to play Ohio State in Week 2. Wisconsin and Oklahoma State round out the top 10 in the preseason AP poll.
The lone Group of Five team in the preseason top 25 is USF, with new head coach Charlie Strong taking over the Bulls. Strong’s new team is ranked No. 19, a few spot s ahead of his old program, the No. 23 Texas Longhorns (now coached by Tom Herman).
The SEC leads the country with six teams appearing in the preseason AP Top 25, followed by the ACC and Big 12 with five ranked teams each. The Big Ten and Pac-12 each have four schools represented. No independent teams appear in the preseason top 25.
And here is the full AP Top 25 preseason poll, with first-place votes noted);
- Alabama (52 first-place votes)
- Ohio State (3)
- Florida State (4)
- USC (2)
- Penn State
- Oklahoma State
- Miami FL
- Kansas State
- Virginia Tech
- West Virginia
- Washington State
A new college football season is just about here (there will be actual college football played this week), and Miami head coach Mark Richt has plenty to look forward to with the Hurricanes. A show at coaching Miami to its first appearance in the ACC Championship Game is right in front of him, but Richt spent a quick moment on Twitter to extended his best wishes to his former program; the Georgia Bulldogs.
Richt recruited the majority of the players currently on Georgia’s roster, and by all accounts, Richt had as healthy a relationship with Georgia’s players than any coach could hope to have. With that in mind, there is no shock in seeing a coach of one program offer this kind of warm and fuzzy feeling to his former program. This is also not the first time Richt has wished Georgia well under new head coach Kirby Smart. In May 2016, Richt was praised for his classiness toward Smart and Georgia for the upcoming season just months after being fired.
Georgia parted ways with Richt following the 2015 season despite a long and successful tenure as head coach (although without as many SEC titles as some would have liked, and a lack of national title appearances during a run that saw the SEC dominate the BCS era). Richt was quickly hired by Miami, and this season Richt is expected to help lead the Hurricanes forward another step toward national prominence.
If there is a college football god watching from the skies above, then we will be blessed with a bowl matchup between Miami and Georgia. Richt said in December 2015 that he believes the two programs are on a collision course for a national championship.
The focus in Miami’s preseason camp has been on the budding battle to be the starting quarterback but Mark Richt might have bigger concerns after an injury to another star offensive player.
The Hurricanes head coach confirmed to reporters on Saturday that receiver Ahmmon Richards missed the practice after he pulled his hamstring earlier in the week. Safe to say that’s not the kind of injury you want a burner like that to suffer right before the season starts.
The Palm Beach Post reports that senior Braxton Berrios stepped up in Richards’ absence during the scrimmage with six catches for 107 yards but things figure to be a little different against real opposing defenses this fall if his running mate can’t go full blast down the field like he potentially could.
Richards averaged 19 yards a catch last season and racked up nearly 1,000 yards through the air as a true freshman. He was expected to play a pivotal role in an offense that is breaking in a new signal-caller but, given the tricky nature of hamstring pulls and wide receivers, it could be a few weeks into the year before he trots out onto the field for the ‘Canes.
Mark Richt may no longer be in the SEC but he still might have to go toe-to-toe with Nick Saban one more time in Atlanta.
The Tuscaloosa News is reporting that Alabama is in negotiations to return to Atlanta for the 2021 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and play none other than Miami for a compelling matchup between two powerhouse programs and do quite a bit to stir up nostalgia for some of a different era in college football. As is the case for the future high-profile season openers as part of the series, the contest is set to be played at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium.
Playing in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is nothing new for the Crimson Tide, as they open this year against Florida State in Week 1 and are scheduled to return to Atlanta in 2019 to take on Duke as well. The school has typically opened their season in such high-profile neutral site games but don’t have anything on the books for such a matchup starting in 2020.
Miami is also coming around to the idea of starting out the year at a big time NFL stadium for their opener and have set dates at AT&T Stadium in Arlington (against LSU) for 2018 and against in-state rival Florida in Orlando for the 2019 campaign. Adding Alabama to the slate in 2021 will just about lock up their non-conference schedule for that year, with home games against Appalachian State and Michigan State also on the docket.
Should the series eventually be confirmed (and there’s little reason to think it won’t), it will certainly be a welcome clash between two national title-winning programs. The pair last met on the field in the 1993 Sugar Bowl, when No. 2 Alabama topped No. 1 Miami 34-13 to deliver Gene Stallings and the Tide a national championship. The two current head coaches also have a bit of a history playing against each other when Richt was coaching at Georgia and staged a thrilling SEC title game in Atlanta back in 2012 that eventually sent the Tide on their way to another championship.
Hopefully everybody is still around when the time comes in 2021 because matchups like Miami and Alabama don’t seem to happen all that often.
When the Miami Hurricanes host Georgia Tech for a critical ACC Coastal Division showdown in October, the program will pay tribute to a handful of great players from the program’s history. Michael Irvin, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Warren Sapp, and the late Sean Taylor will all be added to the school’s Ring of Honor in Hard Rock Stadium.
That is quite a collection of program legends to honor on the same night, but it is also a group very much deserving of the honor from the program. With Miami hosting the Yellow Jackets for a primetime Thursday night game, expect Miami to be able to showcase the history of the program on as grand a stage as possible. The game is scheduled for an 8 pm kickoff on ESPN.
Irvin holds the Miami record for most career touchdown receptions (26) and he was a part of Miami’s national championship team in 1988. The brash wide receiver went on to have a Pro Football Hall of fame career with the Dallas Cowboys, where he was coached for a time by former Miami head coach Jimmy Johnson and won three Super Bowls.
Lewis was an all-Big East player for the Hurricanes in 1994 and 1995 and went on to have a Pro Football Hall of Fame-worthy career as the cornerstone of the Baltimore Ravens from 1996 through 2012 with a pair of Super Bowl victories and one Super Bowl MVP award. Reed was a teammate of Lewis from 2002 through 2012 with the Ravens, where he also put together a hall of fame-caliber career. Reed was a two-time consensus All-American in 2000 and 2001 and a BCS national champion with the Hurricanes in 2001. Like Lewis, it will just be a matter of time before heading to Canton for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Sapp is already in Canton, and he had quite the career at Miami before heading to the NFL. Sapp became the first Miami player to win the Lombardi Trophy and was the unanimous Big East Defensive Player of the Year in 1994, when Miami played Nebraska in the Orange Bowl with an outside shot at claiming a national championship (Nebraska and Penn State each went undefeated and finished 1-2 that season; Miami was No. 3 going into the Orange Bowl against the Huskers).
Taylor looked like he would be another hall of fame player before his untimely death in 2007. At Miami, Taylor led the nation in interceptions in 2003 and set the Miami record for pick-sixes with three in the 2003 season. He was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year as a result and remains the program’s fifth-all-time interceptions leader. He was a part of Miami’s 2001 national championship team.
Miami will also be wearing their brand new alternate black uniform for the game.