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ESPN Analyst Explains Why Clemson Is Ranked No. 1 Over Alabama

Clemson Memorial Stadium during a Tigers game against Syracuse.

CLEMSON, SC - OCTOBER 25: A general view of Memorial Stadium prior to the game between the Clemson Tigers and Syracuse Orange on October 25, 2014 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images)

ESPN released this week its preseason Football Power Index rankings. There was some controversy at the top.

Clemson, not Alabama, came in at No. 1. The Crimson Tide, the reigning national champions, are ranked No. 2.

"The team to beat in 2018 is Clemson, not the defending national champion, according to the Football Power Index's (FPI) initial preseason rankings release.

The reason is simple: returning talent. Though Alabama was the most efficient team in the country last season, it will return only 10 starters. Clemson is bringing back 15, eight of whom are on defense," writes ESPN.

ESPN college football analyst Brad Edwards further expanded on Clemson's No. 1 ranking. He made these comments on SportsCenter.

"The truth is these teams are very even and if you understand what goes into preseason FPI, there's one difference in Clemson's favor that put them at No. 1," Edwards said. "Clemson has five more returning starters than Alabama. It's because Clemson had several underclassmen, who were good enough to maybe be early-round picks in the draft, decide to stay.

"Alabama's guys in that (same) boat decided to go out for the draft. Alabama isn't far behind Clemson at No. 2."

Both Alabama and Clemson should be seriously contending for the College Football Playoff once again. The Crimson Tide and the Tigers are the respective favorites in the SEC and ACC.

Georgia, Ohio State and, somewhat surprisingly, Notre Dame round out the top five of the preseason Football Power Index. You can view the full rankings here.