Breaking down preseason AP No. 1 vs. national champion since 2000

Do preseason polls matter? 

Clemson is a good bet to open the AP Preseason Poll in the No. 1 spot for the second straight year, but it’s the end result that matters. 

In the past 20 college football seasons, the team that opened as the Preseason No. 1 has won the national championship two times. Alabama is the last team to do it, in 2017. USC also started and finished No. 1 in 2017. 

Last year, LSU became the sixth national champion in the past 20 years that was ranked outside the top five in the Preseason AP Top 25. 

Here’s a look at the AP preseason No. 1 teams since 2000 and where they finished, along with the national champion since 2000 and where it started the season.

2000 

Preseason No. 1: Nebraska (finished No. 8) 
National Champion: Oklahoma (preseason No. 19) 

2001  

Preseason No. 1: Florida (finished No. 3)  
National Champion: Miami, Fla. (preseason No. 2) 

2002  

Preseason No. 1: Miami, Fla. (finished No. 2)  
National Champion: Ohio State (preseason No. 13)  

2003 

Preseason No. 1: Oklahoma (finished No. 3) 
National Champion: USC (preseason No. 8) 

2004

Preseason No. 1: USC
National Champion: USC 

2005 

Preseason No. 1: USC (finished No. 2) 
National Champion: Texas (preseason No. 2) 

2006 

Preseason No. 1: Ohio State (finished No. 2) 
National Champion: Florida (preseason No. 7) 

2007 

Preseason No. 1: USC (finished No. 3) 
National Champion: LSU (preseason No. 2) 

2008 

Preseason No. 1: Georgia (finished No. 13) 
National Champion: Florida (preseason No. 5) 

2009  

Preseason No. 1: Florida (finished No. 3) 
National Champion: Alabama (preseason No. 5)

2010 

Preseason No. 1: Alabama (finished No. 10) 
National Champion: Auburn (preseason No. 22) 

2011 

Preseason No. 1: Oklahoma (finished No. 16) 
National Champion: Alabama (preseason No. 2) 

2012  

Preseason No. 1: USC (finished unranked) 
National Champion: Alabama (preseason No. 2) 

2013 

Preseason No. 1: Alabama (finished No. 7) 
National Champion: Florida State (preseason No. 11) 

2014

Preseason No. 1: Florida State (finished No. 5) 
National champion: Ohio State (preseason No. 5)

2015

Preseason No. 1: Ohio State (finished No. 4) 
National champion: Alabama (preseason No. 3) 

2016

Preseason No. 1: Alabama (finished No. 2) 
National champion: Clemson (preseason No. 2) 

2017

Preseason No. 1: Alabama
National champion: Alabama

2018

Preseason No. 1: Alabama (finished No. 2) 
National champion: Clemson (preseason No. 2)

2019

Preseason No. 1: Clemson (finished No. 2) 
National champion: LSU (preseason No. 6) 

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