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COLLEGE FOOTBALL PRESEASON RANKING: The experts' consensus of the nation's top teams right now

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL PRESEASON RANKING: The experts' consensus of the nation's top teams right now
  • College football season officially starts on August 27, but most FBS schools will kick off September 3.
  • On the heels of the release of AP Top 25 ranking, we've gathered four other polls to determine a consensus about the country's top teams.
  • Across five polls from AP, the AFCA, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and NCAA.com, there is a clear (and unsurprising) No. 1 — Alabama.
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1. Alabama Crimson Tide

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
Nick Saban.Paul Sancya/AP Images

2021 record: 13-2

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 1/1/1/1/1

First game: vs. Utah State, 9/3

One thing to know: It's Alabama's seventh year in a row beginning the season No. 1 in the AP's poll.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

2. Ohio State Buckeyes
C.J. Stroud.Jay LaPrete/AP Images

2021 record: 11-2

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 2/2/2/2/2

First game: vs. Notre Dame, 9/3

One thing to know: Quarterback C.J. Stroud is the current favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.

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3. Georgia Bulldogs

3. Georgia Bulldogs
Kirby Smart.Brett Davis/AP Images

2021 record: 14-1

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 3/3/3/3/3

First game: vs. Oregon (in Atlanta), 9/3

One thing to know: Georgia, the reigning national champions, had five defensive players go in the first round of the NFL Draft. Can the Bulldogs replace what they lost and build another stout defense?

4. Clemson Tigers

4. Clemson Tigers
D.J. Uiagalelei.Sean Rayford/AP Images

2021 record: 10-3

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 4/4/4/7/4

First game: vs. Georgia Tech, 9/5

One thing to know: All eyes will be on quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, who looked like a star-in-the-making his freshman year, but struggled last year, throwing more interceptions than touchdowns.

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5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Marcus Freeman.Rick Scuteri/AP Images

2021 record: 11-2

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 5/5/5/6/5

First game: at Ohio State, 9/3

One thing to know: This season will be a big test for first-time head coach Marcus Freeman, who is replacing Brian Kelly.

6. Michigan Wolverines

6. Michigan Wolverines
Cade McNamara.AJ Mast/AP Images

2021 record: 12-2

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 8/6/8/4/7

First game: vs. Colorado State, 9/3

One thing to know: Weeks from the start of the season, Michigan is still staging a QB battle between JJ McCarthy and Cade McNamara in training camp.

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7. Texas A&M Aggies

7. Texas A&M Aggies
Jimbo Fisher.L.G. Patterson/AP Images

2021 record: 8-4

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 6/7/7/8/5

First game: vs. Sam Houston, 9/3

One thing to know: Texas A&M was declared to have the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation for 2022 — can those freshman contribute right away?

8. Utah Utes

8. Utah Utes
Cam Rising.Rick Scuteri/AP Images

2021 record: 10-4

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 7/8/5/6/8

First game: at Florida, 9/3

One thing to know: After Cam Rising took over as QB last year, Utah went 9-1 to close the season and won the Pac-12.

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9. Oklahoma Sooners

9. Oklahoma Sooners
Brent Venables.Sue Ogrocki/AP Images

2021 record: 11-2

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 9/9/9/10/9

First game: vs. UTEP, 9/3

One thing to know: Brent Venables — coming over from Clemson — will have his hands full trying to fix OU's defense, which allowed 25 points per game last season.

10. Oklahoma State Cowboys

10. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Mike Gundy.Roger Steinman/AP Images

2021 record: 12-2

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 12/11/14/13/10

First game: vs. Central Michigan, 9/1

One thing to know: OSU starts the season ranked — unlike last year — but experts are curious if the Cowboys can build a strong defense after some off-season departures.

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11. USC Trojans

11. USC Trojans
Lincoln Riley.Damian Dovarganes/AP Images

2021 record: 4-8

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 14/15/12/9/11

First game: vs. Rice, 9/3

One thing to know: USC is looking for a big turnaround after hiring Lincoln Riley and bringing in new QB Caleb Williams.

12. Baylor Bears

12. Baylor Bears
Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon.Matthew Hinton/AP Images

2021 record: 12-2

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 10/10/10/18/13

First game: vs. Albany, 9/3

One thing to know: After a big turnaround in 2021, Baylor is predicted to win the Big 12 for the first time in the conference's history.

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13. North Carolina State Wolfpack

13. North Carolina State Wolfpack
Devin Leary.Chris Carlson/AP Images

2021 record: 9-3

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 13/13/11/11/14

First game: at East Carolina, 9/3

One thing to know: With a Heisman contender in quarterback Devin Leary and a strong returning defense, expectations are high for NC State.

14. Oregon Ducks

14. Oregon Ducks
Bo Nix.Butch Dill/AP Images

2021 record: 10-4

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 11/12/13/15/15

First game: vs. Georgia (in Atlanta), 9/3

One thing to know: Oregon brought in Auburn QB Bo Nix to reunite with his former quarterbacks coach Kenny Dillingham, who is now the Ducks' OC.

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15. Michigan State Spartans

15. Michigan State Spartans
Mel Tucker.Darron Cummings/AP Images

2021 record: 11-2

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 15/14/15/12/12

First game: vs. Western Michigan, 9/2

One thing to know: Michigan State's offensive line is one to watch, as it lost several stalwarts in the off-season and only have six on the roster with game experience, according to ESPN.

16. Miami Hurricanes

16. Miami Hurricanes
The Miami turnover chain is no longer.Brynn Anderson/AP Images

2021 record: 7-5

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 16/17/16/14/18

First game: vs. Bethune-Cookman, 9/3

One thing to know: The one big change you need to know in Miami this year? New head coach Mario Cristobal got rid of the famous turnover chain that players wore when forcing fumbles or nabbing an interception.

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17. Pittsburgh Panthers

17. Pittsburgh Panthers
Pat Narduzzi and QB Nick Patti.Philip G. Pavely/AP Images

2021 record: 11-3

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 17/16/19/none/16

First game: vs. West Virginia, 9/1

One thing to know: Pittsburgh has some questions on offense after losing starting QB Kenny Pickens and top receiver Jordan Addison.

18. Wisconsin Badgers

18. Wisconsin Badgers
Graham Mertz.L.E. Baskow/AP Images

2021 record: 9-4

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 18/16/18/none/17

First game: vs. Illinois State, 9/3

One thing to know: It's a big year for quarterback Graham Mertz, who was highly recruited but didn't stuff the stat sheet in his first year as a full-time starter.

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19. Cincinnati Bearcats

19. Cincinnati Bearcats
Bearcat.Jeff Dean/AP Images

2021 record: 13-1

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 23/22/21/19/23

First game: at Arkansas, 9/3

One thing to know: Cincinnati lost nine players to the NFL Draft, including the dynamic cornerback duo of Sauce Gardner and Coby Bryant.

20. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

20. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Sam Hartman.Chris Carlson/AP Imageds

2021 record: 11-3

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 22/19/none/20/21

First game: vs. VMI, 9/1

One thing to know: The big question will be how Wake Forest will adjust without quarterback Sam Hartman, who is out indefinitely with a non-football-related medical issue.

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21. Kentucky Wildcats

21. Kentucky Wildcats
Will Levis.Timothy D. Easley/AP Images

2021 record: 10-3

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 20/21/22/22/20

First game: vs. Miami (Ohio), 9/3

One thing to know: Quarterback Will Levis is expected to take a step forward after a strong 2021 season (24 passing TDs, 9 rushing TDs); he is also in the mix for the Heisman.

22. Arkansas Razorbacks

22. Arkansas Razorbacks
Sam Pittman.Michael Woods/AP Images

2021 record: 9-4

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 19/23/17/none/25

First game: vs. Cincinnati, 9/3

One thing to know: Arkansas has a tough slate this season, especially from late September to mid-October, when they play three current Top 25 teams in four weeks.

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23. Texas Longhorns

23. Texas Longhorns
Texas Longhorns.Chuck Burton/AP Images

2021 record: 5-7

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): none/18/23/none/19

First game: vs. Louisiana-Monroe, 9/3

One thing to know: Texas will need to improve its defense to post a winning season — they allowed 31 points per game last year, 99th in the country.

24. Ole Miss Rebels

24. Ole Miss Rebels
Lane Kiffin.Rogelio V. Solis/AP Images

2021 record: 10-3

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 21/24/20/none/22

First game: vs. Troy, 9/3

One thing to know: Lane Kiffin will have his work cut out for him, as Ole Miss added 17 players through the transfer portal this year.

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25. Houston Cougars

25. Houston Cougars
Clayton Tune and Nathaniel Dell.Eric Christian Smith/AP Images

2021 record: 12-2

Poll rankings (AP/AFCA/ESPN/SI/NCAA.com): 24/25/24/17/none

First game: at UTSA, 9/3

One thing to know: The Cougars boast one of the best QB-WR combos in football in Clayton Tune and Nathaniel Dell. Houston's potent offense will give the Cougars a chance to win the American Athletic Conference.