Preseason College Football Rankings 2017: Release Info for Amway Coaches Poll – Bleacher Report

Jalen Hurts is the trigger for Alabama's offense.

Jalen Hurts is the trigger for Alabama’s offense.John Bazemore/Associated Press

The college football debate can begin Thursday, because that’s when the Amway Coaches Poll is released to the public.

The first poll of the year, delivered by college football coaches, will almost certainly have Alabama on top, as Nick Saban‘s team always seems to have a direct route to the college football playoff. There’s no reason to think it will be any different this year.

This will be the fourth straight year that the Crimson Tide starts the year as the No. 1 team, barring a shocking development. The poll will be released at noon ET.

The Amway Coaches poll is now in its 27th season, and it consists of 65 Bowl Subdivision coaches who are members of the American Football Coaches Association.

One of the reasons the Crimson Tide is expected to be the No. 1 team in the nation is the team’s consistency on offense. Alabama has averaged at least 32.1 points per game for the last eight seasons, and that is just too much for opponents to overcome. 

Jalen Hurts returns as the starting quarterback, and this marks the first year since 2013 that Alabama has a veteran starting quarterback. Hurts had a 23-9 TD-interception ratio last year, and he is capable of dominating a game with his arm or his legs. 

The defense has been elite throughout the Saban era, and there’s no reason to think that the 2017 team will be any different. Alabama regularly loses a number of key defensive starters to the NFL, and that is once again the case this year. However, they return five starters to a defense that allowed 76 rushing yards per game and 13.0 points per game. 

Saban’s team lost the national championship to Clemson in heartbreaking fashion, and that game has left a mark.

Alabama's Nick Saban and Florida State's Jimbo Fisher will lead their teams in a Sept. 2 confrontation.

Alabama’s Nick Saban and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher will lead their teams in a Sept. 2 confrontation.Uncredited/Associated Press

“I don’t want to waste a failure,” Saban said, per Anthony Gimino of The Sports Xchange (h/t UPI). “The challenge is not, ‘Are you willing to do it?’ but ‘Why are you willing to do it?’ To me, that creates your passion, and passion gives you the ability to sustain.”

Alabama’s top competition for the top spot could come from Florida State, as the Seminoles look like legitimate challengers for the national championship.

Head coach Jimbo Fisher has a defense that appears capable of dominating on an every-week basis, as that unit developed into one of the strongest in the nation in the second half of the year after a slow start.

Nine starters return on defense this season, and that unit will get tested by the Crimson Tide in the first game of the season Sept. 2.

The big issue for the Seminoles will be the development of sophomore quarterback Deondre Francois. He won’t have star running back Dalvin Cook to help him out, and his game is going to have to be even more productive than it was a year ago when he threw for 3,350 yards and had a 20-7 TD-interception ratio.

Junior Jacques Patrick takes over at the running back position, and he is more of the overpowering type at 6’2″ and 231 pounds than a breakaway runner.

Francois is going to have develop a rapport with a new crew of receivers, and the Seminoles are going to have to refocus after their challenging season opener.

Ohio State is likely to be in the fight for the national championship once again this year. 

The Buckeyes are likely to have one of the most potent offensive teams in the country, as they return eight starters, and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson should help this team remain among college football’s elite teams.

J.T. Barrett is a brilliant quarterback who is coming off a season in which he threw 24 TD passes and just seven interceptions, and he threw for 2,555 yards. Running back Mike Weber had 1,096 net yards a year ago and also pounded the ball into the end zone nine times.

The Ohio State defense held opponents to 15.5 points per game last year, and they return seven starters. 

Amway Projected Top 25 Preseason

1. Alabama

2. Florida State

3. Ohio State

4. Clemson

5. USC

6. Oklahoma

7. Washington

8. Auburn

9. LSU

10. Michigan

11. Louisville

12. Penn State

13. Georgia

14. Florida

15. Stanford

16. Wisconsin

17. Texas

18. Oklahoma State

19. West Virginia

20. Miami

21. South Florida

22. Kansas State

23. Virginia Tech

24. Washington State

25. Tennessee