Clemson, SC - Clemson is ranked ninth in the preseason Associated Press college football poll released on Saturday. It is the highest preseason ranking for the Tigers program since 1991 when Clemson was also ninth.
"I hope our team takes this ranking as a motivating factor, as something to uphold, then it is a positive," said Bowden. "If they think we have arrived, believe we have accomplished something and become complacent, then it is a negative. We won't shy away from it, but it will put a target on us. I am sure it will motivate Alabama."
The Crimson Tide also made the Associated Press preseason poll with a number-24 ranking. This means Clemson will face a ranked team as a ranked team in the season opener for just the third time in school history. Clemson defeated a 12th ranked North Carolina team as an 18th ranked AP team in 1959, and came away with a 20-18 victory. The only other battle of top 25 teams to play in the opening game of a Clemson season came in 1982 when 11th ranked Clemson lost to seventh ranked Georgia in Athens, 13-7.
This will be just the 10th time in Clemson history that the Tigers have opened a season against a top 25 team, but the fifth time a Tommy Bowden coached Clemson team has done it. Clemson has won each of its last two openers against a top 25 team, a 25-24 win over 17th ranked Texas A&M in 2005, and a 24-18 win over 19th ranked Florida State last year.
This is the 20th season Clemson has been ranked in the preseason top 25 by The Associated Press. The first occurrence took place 50 years ago when Clemson was ranked number-18. Clemson finished 8-3 that season and won the Atlantic Coast Conference title. The Tigers finished 12th in the AP poll that year.
This is the seventh time Clemson has been ranked in the top 10 of the preseason AP poll, the first since 1991. Clemson's highest preseason ranking in any poll was a number-four rating in 1984 and 1988. Clemson finished 7-4 in 1984 and 10-2 in 1988. Clemson was ninth in the final AP poll in 1988.
The preseason poll has not been much of an indicator in the last few years. Each of the last three years Clemson has not been ranked in the preseason poll (2003, 2005, 2007), Clemson has finished in the top 25 of both polls. Each of the last two years Clemson was ranked in the preseason top 25 (2001 and 2006), the Tigers have not finished in the top 25.
Seven times Clemson has been ranked in the preseason top 25 and gone on to win the Atlantic Coast Conference title. The last time that happened was 1991. That was also the last time Clemson was ranked in the top 10 in the preseason poll.
Clemson's highest final ranking in a season it was not in the preseason poll came in 1981 when the Tigers won the national championship. The 1989 season is the only year Clemson's preseason poll matched its final poll. Clemson was 12th in the preseason and 12th in the postseason polls that year.