The Tigers are No. 12 with a total of 880 points in the AP preseason top 25 poll released Monday, narrowly missing a top 10 start to the season behind No. 10 Oklahoma State (889 points) and No. 11 MI (881).
Alabama is No. 1 in The Associated Press' preseason poll, the sixth time for the Tide overall and the fourth time under coach Nick Saban.
Hours before Florida State and Alabama square off, the Gators will open against No. 11 MI (3:30 p.m., ABC) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The two highest-ranked SEC teams in the preseason poll are No. 1 Alabama and No. 12 Auburn. They also weren't ranked in the Coaches Poll released earlier this month. 2 game to start the season No. 1 vs. No. 2. Oklahoma led the way at No. 7, Oklahoma State was close behind at No. 10, K-State checked in at No. 20, West Virginia was voted No. 22 and Texas rounded out the group at No. 23.
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MI voters gave Democrats a 13 point advantage over Republicans when asked who they preferred to control Congress after 2018. In Pennsylvania, Democrats hold a 10-point advantage on congressional preference, 47 percent to 37 percent.
Alabama also was No. 1 in the preseason coaches' poll. The Clemson Tigers, who beat Alabama in last year's title game behind since-departed star quarterback Deshaun Watson, will open the campaign ranked fifth nationally. Florida State was third with four first-place votes. The Tide does not always win the national championship - just half the time over the last eight years - but is always in contention.
The Wildcats will play No. 15 Georgia, No. 16 Louisville, No. 17 Florida and No. 25 Tennessee. This is the 10th time in the past 11 seasons that the SEC has had at least six ranked teams in the preseason.
Meanwhile, Ohio State - which is ranked second - is making its 29th consecutive appearance in the preseason poll.