Alabama football ranked No. 1 in preseason USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama football is the No. 1 team heading into the 2022 season in the preseason USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll, which was released Monday. 

Alabama received 54 of the 66 possible first-place votes. 

Ohio State (No. 2), Georgia (No. 3), Clemson (No. 4) and Notre Dame (No. 5) round out the top five. Although the Buckeyes ended up No. 2, the Bulldogs received one more first-place vote with six compared to Ohio State's five. 

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The only other team with a first-place vote was Texas with one. The Longhorns are ranked No. 18. 

Other SEC teams that made the top 25 include Texas A&M (No. 7), Kentucky (No. 21), Arkansas (No. 23) and Ole Miss (No. 24). 

The Crimson Tide finished the 2021 season ranked No. 2 behind Georgia after the Bulldogs won the College Football Playoff Championship. 

Nick Saban took time to note Sunday that articles are already deciding what kind of team Alabama is gong to have. 

"In some ways this creates a much more difficult challenge to have players be hungry, try to prove what they can do together as a group," Saban said. "But it is a challenge that we're willing to deal with and hopefully we've got the right kind of leadership on our team to be able to overcome some of that so that we can avoid complacency and stay focused on doing the right things, deal with success if we have success, be able to deal with frustrations if we have failures."

How the Crimson Tide manages these elements, Saban said, will determine what the team actually becomes. 

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Nick Kelly covers Alabama football and men's basketball for The Tuscaloosa News, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at nkelly@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly