BY AARON BRENNER | firstname.lastname@example.org
CLEMSON – Just more evidence the 2013 Clemson football season will be bookended by showdowns … or expected to be, anyhow.
According to the USA Today preseason college football poll as voted by the coaches and released Thursday, the season begins with all eyes on No. 5 Georgia visiting No. 8 Clemson in Death Valley on Aug. 31. Those will be the digits on the bottom line televised by ABC beside each team’s name.
Nearly three months later, the Tigers – who are ranked in the coaches’ preseason poll for just the fifth time in the past 12 years – will travel to South Carolina, which boasts a No. 7 preseason ranking.
That’s two-fifths the barrage of top-shelf SEC squads Clemson will battle in the regular season. True to recent form, the SEC dominates the voting.
Six squads are in the top 25, including five in the top 10 – and they’re the same top five who exited the 2012 season in the top 10 (No. 1 Alabama, No. 5 Georgia, No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 7 South Carolina and No. 10 Florida.)
As for the ACC, only No. 12 Florida State joins Clemson. However, No. 9 Louisville is spending its first and final season in the American Athletic Conference before joining the ACC, and No. 11 Notre Dame begins playing five ACC opponents per year in 2014.
Miami, the favorite to win the ACC Coastal Division, is the second team listed in the ‘receiving votes’ portion. Virginia Tech and North Carolina are also among the 53 squads that found its name on at least one coach’s ballot.
The top ten is rounded out by preseason No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 Stanford.
Clemson’s nine scheduled opponents besides the Bulldogs, Seminoles and Gamecocks are receiving a combined zero votes.
The Associated Press preseason poll is yet to be released.
Here’s Clemson’s recent preseason poll history through the years:
2013 – AP ??, USA Today 8
2012 – AP 14, USA 14
2011 – AP NR, USA RV
2010 – AP RV, USA RV
2009 – AP RV, USA RV
2008 – AP 9, USA 9
2007 – AP RV, USA RV
2006 – AP 18, USA 18
2005 – AP RV, USA RV
2004 – AP 15, USA 16
2003 – AP NR, USA RV
2002 – AP RV, USA RV