As many of you already know, Clemson was voted the top-ranked team in the country by the Associated Press on Monday. It marks the second straight year the Tigers will hold the No. 1 ranking when the college football season kicks off.
However, what you probably do not know is the significance of the ranking. Granted, preseason polls carry very little weight in the grand scheme of things. However, the preseason polls are a refection of how others around the country view a program, and right now Clemson’s football program is viewed in a very rare light.
Clemson becomes the sixth program since the inception of the preseason poll in 1950 ever to open consecutive preseason polls at No. 1, joining Alabama (2016-18), USC (2004-05), Oklahoma (1985-87, 1974-75, 1956-57), Ohio State (1969-70) and Notre Dame (1953-54).
But making history does not stop there.
Monday’s No. 1 ranking also marks the sixth consecutive season in which Clemson has been voted atop the AP Top 25. The Tigers spent the first five weeks of 2019 ranked at the top of the AP Poll.
Head coach Dabo Swinney now joins Alabama’s Nick Saban (12) as the only coaches in AP Poll history (since 1936) to lead a team to at least one No. 1 ranking in six consecutive years, and Clemson joins Alabama (12 from 2008-19) and Miami (seven from 1986-92) as the only programs to appear at No. 1 in at least six consecutive seasons.
Of course, the Tigers closed the 2016 and 2018 seasons as the top-ranked team after winning the national championship. In 2015, the Tigers were ranked No. 1 for the five straight polls leading up to the national championship game. In 2017, Clemson owned the top spot in the two polls prior to the College Football Playoff.
Clemson also claimed the No. 1 spot in the last two polls of the 1981 season, the program’s first national championship.
Prior to Clemson’s No. 1 ranking last preseason, the program’s previous preseason high had been second, the preseason rank held by both the 2016 and 2018 squads that would each go on to earn the national championship. By virtue of a second straight preseason No. 1 ranking, Clemson’s preseason perch this year marks the seventh Top 5 preseason ranking in the AP Poll in school history, including 1984 (No. 4), 1988 (4), 2016 (2), 2017 (5), 2018 (2) and 2019 (1).
Clemson has now been ranked in the AP Top 25 in the preseason for nine consecutive years, the longest such stretch in school history. The Tigers garnered a Top 25 preseason ranking from the AP in eight consecutive years under three different head coaches—Danny Ford, Ken Hatfield and Tommy West—across the 1987-’94 seasons.
Prior to last year, Clemson had met or exceeded its preseason ranking in the final AP poll in each of its previous eight seasons. Swinney’s eight-year streak from 2011-18 was the longest by a coach in college football history.
Clemson finished last year ranked No. 2 in the country.
The Tigers kickoff the 2020 season on Sept. 12 at Wake Forest.
–Clemson Athletic Communications contributed to this story
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