Preseason No. 1 teams are far from locks to stay on top at season's end, but the two rankings matched up in 2017 with preseason favorite Alabama lifting the trophy in Atlanta. Only 11 of the 68 preseason No. 1 teams have finished the year atop the final polls, including just three in the past 25 years.
The most common finish for preseason favorites, since the poll's debut in 1950, has been No. 3 (11 times) followed by No. 1 (11). Thirteen preseason favorites have finished outside the top 10, including six that failed to crack the final poll.
The most recent program to hold down the No. 1 spot at season's start and finish before 2017 Alabama was USC in 2004. The Trojans also had the last unranked finish for a preseason No. 1 back in 2012.
Below is how each favorite in the annual AP preseason Top 25 finished. Twenty-two different programs have claimed the top spot in the poll's history:
|YEAR||PRESEASON NO. 1||FINAL RANK|
Oklahoma leads this list with 10 preseason No. 1 rankings and four national titles in such years. Ohio State (eight) and USC (seven) are next closest in preseason No. 1 rankings, followed by Alabama, Florida State and Nebraska (all with six).
For the Crimson Tide, 2017 was the second year they started and ended the year No. 1. Alabama also did so in 1978.
three of the past four preseason favorites have appeared in that year's respective College Football Playoff field. Alabama's 2017 squad was the first to win the national title.