Although Fitzpatrick was its only representative on the first-team, a total of five Crimson Tide players made the AP's annual preseason all-star team, with junior running back Bo Scarbrough, sophomore left tackle Jonah Williams, junior receiver Calvin Ridley and senior punter J.K. Scott each earning second-team recognition. Alabama opens the season against the Seminoles in Atlanta on September 2, just the fourth opener involving top-five teams and the first pitting teams ranked in the top three. Then, on November 4, IU welcomes Wisconsin for the penultimate home game of the season.
Clemson beat Alabama for the national championship, so that's why they are ahead of Penn State homie.
Fifty-two of 61 media members voted to put Alabama at No. 1 for this season's poll.
South Florida, led by former Texas head coach Charlie Strong, is the lone non-Power 5 representative in the poll. On two occasions - 2011 and 2013 - OSU has been ranked consecutively from the preseason AP poll to the final AP ranking. Alabama-Florida State is the deserving headliner, but Michigan-Florida, West Virginia-Virginia Tech, and Tennessee-Georgia Tech are among the other games with important national implications.
The Hurricanes, who haven't named a starting quarterback for their September 2 season opener against Bethune-Cookman, are ranked in the preseason poll for the first time since 2010.
Eight SEC teams received votes from the panel, but Arkansas was not one of them. The Seminoles finished No. 8 in the final polls last season after closing the year on a 5-game winning streak and with an Orange Bowl win over MI. Ohio State, still steaming from the Clemson playoff shutout with an unusually high number of vets on the roster, is 2. But I've got four Big Ten teams in my top 13, with No. 9 Penn State, No. 12 MI and No. 13 Wisconsin following the No. 2 Buckeyes.
Miami is ranked just behind Florida at No. 18. And they've been there before - three times in the last five years.
I've got Washington at No. 8, the lowest-ranked team among last year's playoff participants. But if you actually break down the success of the coaches and their rosters, the Vols have no business being so clear-cut as the sixth highest-ranked SEC team. Auburn is ranked No. 12 and LSU is No. 13. John Cooper of Ohio State and Bill Snyder of Kansas State did it five consecutive years.