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Alabama will start this year the same way it finished last season: atop the polls. 

With 1,548 points, the defending national champion was named as the top team in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll with Oklahoma (1,462 points) starting the season at No. 2. Last year's preseason No. 1 Clemson follows close behind the Sooners at No. 3 with 1,447 points. 

The Crimson Tide also checked in as No. 1 in the USA Today coaches poll last week with 63 of the 65 first-place votes.

Either Alabama or Clemson has topped the AP preseason poll ahead of every season for the last six years, dating back to 2016. Both teams will enter the season with new quarterbacks after Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Alabama's Mac Jones were taken in the first round of April's NFL draft. 

Ohio State and Georgia fill out the top five while 2020 College Football Playoff semifinalist Notre Dame comes in at No. 9. 

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The 2021 preseason poll represents a return to normalcy after the Pac-12 and Big Ten canceled their respective fall sports seasons just before the preseason rankings last year. The two leagues reversed course in mid-September and Alabama went on to win its sixth national title in a 52–24 win over Ohio State in the national championship game in January. 

Michigan was left outside the preseason poll for the first time since 2015. 

Full preseason AP top 25:

1. Alabama 
2. Oklahoma
3. Clemson
4. Ohio State
5. Georgia
6. Texas A&M
7. Iowa State 
8. Cincinnati
9. Notre Dame
10. North Carolina
11. Oregon
12. Wisconsin
13. Florida
14. Miami (FL)
15. USC
16. LSU
17. Indiana
18. Iowa
19. Penn State
20. Washington
21. Texas
22. Coastal Carolina
23. Louisiana Lafayette
24. Utah
25. Arizona State

Others Receiving Votes: Oklahoma State 107, Ole Miss 106, TCU 40, Liberty 36, Auburn 32, North Carolina State 14, Michigan 12, Northwestern 8, Boise State 7, Nevada 7, Brigham Young 6, Ball State 6, Houston 5, Boston College 5, UCF 5, West Virginia 3, UAB 2, Army 2, UCLA 2.

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