Clemson will enter the 2018 campaign ranked No. 2 in the nation behind defending national champion Alabama, according to the preseason Coaches Poll released by USA Today on Thursday, while South Carolina is knocking on the door of the top 25..
Clemson, which played in the College Football Playoff for the third consecutive year last season, is sandwiched between Alabama and Ohio State. Georgia, which lost to Alabama in the national championship contest, is No. 4.
South Carolina, coming off a 9-4 season, is the first team listed as receiving votes. Oklahoma State is No. 25 with 168 votes. The Gamecocks are next with 138.
The ranking marks Clemson's third consecutive top 5 preseason Coaches Poll ranking, a first in program history. The Tigers have exceeded their preseason Coaches Poll ranking in each of the last seven seasons.
The 2018 squad joins the 1982 (No. 9), 1984 (8), 1988 (4), 2008 (9), 2013 (8), 2016 (2) and 2017 (5) squads as one of eight Clemson teams to enter the year in the Coaches Poll preseason top 10.
Clemson opens the season at Memorial Stadium against Furman on Saturday, Sept. 1. USC opens at home against Coastal Carolina on the same day.
Alabama received 61 one first-place votes from a panel of major college coaches. Clemson received three and Ohio State one.
The Associated Press poll will be released on Aug. 20.
Alabama won its fifth national championship under head coach Nick Saban last season, beating Georgia in overtime of the College Football Playoff national title game.
Rounding out the top 10 are Oklahoma, Washington, Wisconsin, Miami, Penn State and Auburn.
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