There appears to be a consensus among college football prognosticators – Clemson will not slip too far from glory in 2017.
Despite major departures, chief among them the loss of quarterback Deshaun Watson, Clemson is ranked in the Top 10 of the preseason polls of seven major outlets.
Clemson is slotted No. 5 by Sporting News, Fox Sports and Bleacher Report. The Tigers are ranked No. 7 by ESPN, CBS and Athlon. Clemson sits at No. 9 in a poll compiled by USA Today Sports writers. The official USA Today Sports coaches poll has not yet been released.
In an aggregate analysis of those polls, Clemson would rank No. 5. Clemson’s Atlantic Coast Conference rival Florida State would be ranked No. 3 in this composite. Clemson’s other ranked foes on the 2017 schedule are No. 9 Auburn and No. 16 Louisville.
Alabama was ranked No. 1 in four of the seven polls and no lower than No. 3 in the remaining three. Florida State and Ohio State are the only other teams ranked No. 1 in any of the seven polls.
The stark discrepancies among the polls indicate how much guesswork is involved. LSU is ranked as high as No. 6 and as low as No. 20. Texas is ranked No. 13 in the Athlon poll but does not appear in the Fox Sports poll. Yet, Fox Sports is the only outlet that included Nebraska, N.C. State and Mississippi State (Nos. 23, 24 and 25, respectively).
Southern California was the last team to open the season ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll and finish the season as the national champion. That was in 2004.
In 2012, Southern Cal opened No. 1 and finished unranked. That previously had not occurred since 1964. In 2010, Auburn won the national title after opening the season ranked No. 23.
Last year, Clemson was ranked No. 2 in the preseason coaches and media polls.