Michigan and Michigan State will open the season as Top 25 teams.
The Wolverines are ranked No. 7, while the Spartans are No. 18 in the preseason Associated Press college football poll, released Monday.
For the first time, defending national champion Clemson is No. 1 in the preseason Top 25 after winning the program’s second national title in three seasons behind freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence in January. Clemson now can claim equal standing with Alabama at the top of the sport.
The Crimson Tide, coming off a 44-16 loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff championship, is No. 2. Clemson received 52 first-place votes and Alabama received the other 10 from the media. Clemson snaps a record-tying string of three straight years in which Alabama was preseason No. 1.
Georgia, Alabama’s Southeastern Conference rival, is No. 3, followed by No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 5 Ohio State.
Clemson’s rise under coach Dabo Swinney has been uncommon in college football. The school won the national championship in 1980, but mostly it had resided on a tier well below the traditional national powers. Clemson football was usually good and sometimes excellent, but never this.
Last season’s championship made Clemson just the 12th school with at least three AP titles since the poll started in 1936.
The Wolverines return Shea Patterson at quarterback, who will operate a "pro-spread" offense guided by new coordinator Josh Gattis. They'll also contend with a rugged schedule that includes No. 9 Notre Dame and Army, which received Top 25 votes, on their nonconference schedule.
Michigan opens the season Aug. 31 at home against Middle Tennessee State.
Michigan State, meanwhile, is coming off a 7-6 season capped by a 7-6 loss to Oregon in the Redbox Bowl.
The Spartans return the bulk of a defense that ranked No. 1 in the country last season against the run, but must revive an offense marred by injuries — including to starting quarterback Brian Lewerke — and ineffectiveness last season that led to a shuffling of the coaching staff following the season.
Michigan State opens the season Aug. 30 at home against Tulsa.
The in-state rivals are among seven Big Ten teams in the poll, led by Ohio State (No. 5), Penn State (15), Wisconsin (19), Iowa (20), and Nebraska (24).
Associated Press Top 25
1. Clemson, 1,540 points
2. Alabama, 1,496
3. Georgia, 1,403
4. Oklahoma, 1,331
5. Ohio State, 1,261
6. LSU, 1,199
7. Michigan, 1,164
8. Florida, 1,054
9. Notre Dame, 1,044
10. Texas, 1,005
11. Oregon, 860
12. Texas A&M, 852
13. Washington, 786
14. Utah, 772
15. Penn State, 651
16. Auburn, 578
17. UCF, 410
18. Michigan State, 377
19. Wisconsin, 370
20. Iowa, 330
21. Iowa State, 302
22. Syracuse, 209
23. Washington State, 200
24. Nebraska, 154
25. Stanford, 141
Others receiving votes: Missouri 117, Army 94, Mississippi State 87, Miami (Fla.) 70, Northwestern 63, TCU 57, Virginia 44, Boise State 38, Cincinnati 16, South Carolina 15, Virginia Tech 12, Fresno State 8, Utah State 8, Minnesota 7, Memphis 6, Appalachian State 5, West Virginia 3, Oklahoma State 3, Arizona State 3, Arizona 1, USC 1