Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia top college football preseason coaches poll

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Georgia is coming off its first national championship since 1980 but is ranked behind two others in one prominent college football preseason poll.

The preseason edition of the USA Today coaches poll was released Monday and Georgia came in at No. 3 behind Alabama and Ohio State. Alabama, of course, lost to UGA in last year’s CFP title game while Ohio State fell short of winning the Big Ten championship for the first time since 2016.

Nonetheless, with so much talent returning in 2022, the Crimson Tide and Buckeyes were voted as the top two teams in the country entering the season, according to the panel of 65 FBS head coaches who participate in the poll.

Alabama received 54 of the 65 first-place votes while Ohio State received five and Georgia received six.

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) jogs to the sideline after a play during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Florida, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) is back after winning the Heisman Trophy in 2021. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Next on the list at No. 4 is Clemson, which is coming off a rare three-loss season filled with injuries and poor offensive play. After the Tigers at No. 5 is Notre Dame, which is entering its first season with Marcus Freeman in place as head coach. The Irish won 11 games last fall but saw longtime head coach Brian Kelly leave South Bend for LSU.

Michigan, on the heels of its first win over Ohio State since 2011 and its first outright Big Ten title since 2003, is ranked No. 6 in the preseason poll. Rounding out the top 10 are No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 8 Utah, No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 10 Baylor.

Texas A&M, which went 8-4 last year but did have a big upset over Alabama, is entering its fifth season under Jimbo Fisher with massive expectations. Utah, meanwhile, is coming off its first-ever Pac-12 title. Oklahoma saw Lincoln Riley (and star QB Caleb Williams) leave Norman for USC and now has former Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables in place as head coach. Baylor, meanwhile, was the surprise Big 12 champion in 2021 but is looking to replace a bevy of veteran contributors from last year’s team.

Speaking of USC, the Trojans are No. 15 in the poll despite going 4-8 last year as Riley attempts to quickly rebuild the program in the Pac-12 before the big move to the Big Ten.

Another high-profile coaching move was Mario Cristobal leaving Oregon for Miami, his alma mater. While Oregon, which hired ex-Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning, is No. 12, the Hurricanes are ranked No. 17 entering Cristobal’s first year.

Another team looking to bounce back from a losing season is Texas, which is No. 18 and curiously received a single first-place vote. Yes, really.

Last season, Cincinnati became the first member of a Group of Five conference to reach the College Football Playoff. Entering 2022, the Bearcats are ranked No. 22 in the preseason coaches poll as they look to replace NFL talent like Sauce Gardner and Desmond Ridder.

Below is the full Top 25, plus the teams that received votes.

  1. Alabama

  2. Ohio State

  3. Georgia

  4. Clemson

  5. Notre Dame

  6. Michigan

  7. Texas A&M

  8. Utah

  9. Oklahoma

  10. Baylor

  11. Oklahoma State

  12. Oregon

  13. NC State

  14. Michigan State

  15. USC

  16. Pittsburgh

  17. Miami

  18. Texas

  19. Wake Forest

  20. Wisconsin

  21. Kentucky

  22. Cincinnati

  23. Arkansas

  24. Ole Miss

  25. Houston

Others receiving votes: Iowa 248; Penn State 246; Tennessee 163; Brigham Young 152; Louisiana State 143; Auburn 98; Central Florida 55; North Carolina 34; San Diego State 25; Fresno State 21; Mississippi State 19; Florida 17; Utah State 12; Air Force 12; UCLA 10; Boise State 10; Appalachian State 10; Minnesota 6; South Carolina 5; Kansas State 4; Iowa State 3; Army 3; UL Lafayette 2; Southern Methodist 2; Purdue 2; Oregon State 2; Coastal Carolina 2; Texas-San Antonio 1; Louisville 1; Florida State 1.