Only in college football is No. 1 a bad place to start, at least it has been for the better part of the past 25 years.
The Associated Press’ preseason No. 1 has won the national title just three times since 1989 and not since 2004.
Even Alabama, as powerful as it has been under coach Nick Saban winning three national titles in four years from 2009 to ’12, was unable to avoid an AP curse.
But rest easy, Florida State, fans. The Seminoles, who will open the season ranked No. 1 by the media, won their first national titles – in 1993 and ’99 – after starting from the pole position.
The advent of the College Football Playoff means for the first time since 1936, neither the AP nor the coaches’ vote will determine a national champion.
The CFP committee, which will release a weekly top 25 starting Oct. 28, will determine which four teams will play for the first playoff title.
The new era of college football ends for the first time with a true national championship game on Jan. 12 in Arlington, Texas.
Twenty teams to watch during the 2014 season:
The Five Favorites
There were significant losses on defense, notably defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. Quarterback Jameis Winston would not have won the Heisman Trophy without receiver Kelvin Benjamin (the Carolina Panthers’ first-round pick), but coach Jimbo Fisher’s fifth team has the best offensive line in the country (see the real key to Alabama’s success under Saban) and a whole new rack of recruiting riches on defense.
But Urban Meyer has run circles around the Big Ten, save for Sparty, in short order and has the clearest path ( easiest schedule) to a spot in the CFP of any major conference team.
The Next Five
The Overlooked Five
It’s important to note, unlike the BCS there’s no qualifying ranking to get into a major bowl in the CFP. The highest-rated team from the other conferences (American, Sun Belt, MAC, Mountain West, WAC, C-USA) is guaranteed a spot in the Peach, Cotton, Fiesta or Orange bowls.
The Five New Guys