The Clemson football team will open the 2019 season as the No. 1 ranked team in the country at least in one of the two major polls.
The Tigers debuted at No. 1 in Thursday’s Amway Coaches Poll, which was released by USA TODAY. It marked the first time in the program’s history it will open a college football season as the top-ranked team in at least one of the two major polls.
The other poll, the Associated Press, will release its top 25 preseason poll on Aug. 19.
If the coaches’ poll is any indication, Clemson is likely to be the writers’ top choice when the AP Poll debuts as well. The defending national champions were not only voted as the No. 1 ranked team in the country by the coaches, but they were the overwhelming choice to win a second straight national championship.
The Tigers garnered 59 of a possible 65 first place votes. Alabama came in second with the other six first place votes.
It marks the first time since 2015 that the Crimson Tide will not start a year No. 1 in the coaches’ poll. That year, the Tide was ranked No. 3 to start the season.
Clemson, who beat Alabama 44-16 in last year’s national championship game, tallied 591 points in the coaches’ poll, 25 more than Alabama’s 566. Georgia is ranked third in the poll, followed by Oklahoma and Ohio State to close out the top five.
The Tigers’ No. 1 ranking will be tested early in the season. Clemson opens the new football year against ACC rival Georgia Tech on Aug. 29 and then will host No. 11 Texas A&M in Week 2. The Tigers needed a K’Von Wallace interception in the final seconds on a two-point conversation try to hold off the Aggies last year from forcing overtime.
In Week 3, Clemson again plays an ACC game, this time going on the road to take on No. 22 Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. The last time the Tigers visited the Carrier Dome, the Orange upset the No. 2 ranked team in the country, 27-24, in 2017. That is the last time the Tigers lost a game in the ACC.
As of right now, the there is no other ranked opponent on Clemson’s 2019 schedule.
In case you did not know, Thursday’s ranking marks the fourth straight year Clemson has opened a season ranked in the top 5 of the Amway Coaches Poll. The Tigers were ranked No. 2 in the preseason poll in 2016 and 2018 and was ranked No. 5 at the start of the 2017 season.
Prior to 2016, Clemson had opened a season ranked in the top 5 of the coaches’ poll just one other time. In 1988, the Tigers were ranked No. 4 in the preseason poll and peaked at No. 3 in the country.
As mentioned, Clemson opens the season at home against Georgia Tech with kickoff set for 7 p.m. on the new ACC Network. It will mark the first live football game on the ACCN.