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No preseason No. 1 college football team has won a national title since 2004

Alabama could have been the first since 2004 on Monday night.

CFP National Championship Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

No. 2 Clemson defeated the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide on Monday night, 35-31 thanks to a thrilling, last-second touchdown pass by Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson. With the victory, the Tigers finished the year as the No. 1 team in the final AP Poll of the season, with preseason No. 1 Alabama finishing second.

If it had defeated Clemson, Alabama would have been the first-ever preseason No. 1 team to remain at the top of the polls all season long during a 15-game season.

It also would have been the first preseason No. 1 team to win the national title since USC’s 2004 season. So as we close the books on the 2016 season, that means 12 years have gone by and we have yet to see a preseason No. 1 team go on to win it all. A RedditCFB user pointed this out on Tuesday.

In parentheses next to the national champion is that team’s preseason ranking.

Preseason AP No. 1s

Season Preseason No. 1 National Champ
Season Preseason No. 1 National Champ
2004 USC USC (1)
2005 USC Texas (2)
2006 Ohio State Florida (7)
2007 USC LSU (2)
2008 Georgia Florida (5)
2009 Florida Alabama (5)
2010 Alabama Auburn (22)
2011 Oklahoma Alabama (2)
2012 USC Alabama (2)
2013 Alabama Florida State (11)
2014 Florida State Ohio State (5)
2015 Ohio State Alabama (3)
2016 Alabama Clemson (2)

For the past four seasons, the preseason No. 1 ranking has been awarded to the team that won the national title the season prior. But with Watson leaving for the NFL Draft, AP voters might not be too quick to crown Clemson before the season, so we’ll have to wait and see who gets the No. 1 spot. Here’s our early top 25.

If there’s anything this shows, it’s how difficult it is for a single favorite to win it all in the modern era in college football, especially with the new College Football Playoff system in place.