When the 2019 football season begins on Aug. 29, Clemson’s football program will accomplish something it has never done before. It will open a new season as the No. 1 ranked team in the country.
It is a crazy statistic when you think about it. Though Clemson has won three national championships and has a rich football history, it has never owned the preseason No. 1 ranking.
Last week, ESPN released its post-spring Football Power Index Poll and the Tigers remained No. 1. The same occurred on Monday when CBS Sports released its preseason top 25 and had Clemson atop their poll.
The Associated Press and USA TODAY will not release their preseason polls until August, but it appears the Tigers will officially be the No. 1 ranked team in the country when they do.
The highest Clemson has been ranked in the official preseason polls is No. 2, which came in 2016 and in 2018. In both instances, the Tigers went on to win the national championship.
Now the question is can Clemson go wire-to-wire as the No. 1 ranked team in the country. That has not happened in the College Football Playoff era, and it has not happened, period, since Alabama did it 2009.
Coincidentally, Alabama came close in 2016 and 2018 as it opened the preseason ranked No. 1 and stayed there all the way to the CFP National Championship, only to lose both times to Clemson.
This year will mark the eighth straight year the Tigers will open a college football season ranked in the AP Top 25. It will tie as the program’s longest such streak.
From 1987-’94, Clemson opened the season ranked somewhere within the AP’s top 25 teams.
This will be the fourth straight year Clemson has opened ranked in the top 5, a first for the program. The Tigers opened the 2016 season No. 2, the 2017 season No. 5 and last year ranked No. 2. They also ranked in top 10 in 2013 when they opened the year No. 8 in the AP poll.
Prior to 2013, Clemson opened a season in the AP top 10 seven times. They opened at No. 9 in 1960, No. 4 in 1984, No. 9 in 1987, No. 4 in 1988, No. 10 in 1990, No. 9 in 1991 and No. 9 in 2008.
Overall, this coming season will mark the 28th year Clemson has opened a season in the AP’s Preseason Poll. The first year Clemson was ranked in its preseason poll came in 1958, when the Tigers debuted at No. 18.
And though it’s great to open the season at No. 1, the only poll that really matters is the one at the end of the year. If the Tigers end the season ranked No. 1, they’ll make history yet again. But we will have to wait to write about it.