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Clemson, Alabama top AP poll but Mizzou just misses the cut | Mizzou | stltoday.com

Missouri football coach Barry Odom will to have to wait a couple weeks to cash in on one of his unique contract clauses. Starting this season, Odom earns a $5,000 bonus any week his Tigers are nationally ranked in one of the major polls.

The Tigers aren't eligible for the Coaches Poll this season - or at least until their NCAA sanctions are overturned, if that happens this fall - but the 62 voters who make up the Associated Press Top 25 are free to vote for Odom's team. A handful had the Tigers on their ballot for the AP preseason poll but not enough to squeak into the top 25.

The Tigers, coming off an 8-5 campaign, earned the most AP poll points among teams that didn't finish in the top 25. With 117 points, Missouri came in just behind No. 25 Stanford at 141 points.

Mizzou has started the season in the AP Top 25 just five times since the 1980s: No. 18 in 2004, No. 6 in 2008, No. 21 in 2011 and No. 24 in 2014 and 2015.

Mizzou peaked at No. 14 on two AP ballots, according to the site CollegePollTracker.com: Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News and Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald.  The Tigers were on another 22 ballots, ranging from No. 17 to 25, and were unranked by 38 voters.

There were no surprises at the top of the AP poll, where defending national champion Clemson is No. 1 with 52 of 62 first-place votes, followed by No. 2 Alabama, last year's national runner-up, with the other 10 first-place votes. Clemson has won two of the last three national championships, but this marks the first time the Tigers begin the season No. 1 in the AP poll. Alabama had been the top-ranked team in the AP preseason poll the last three years.

Clemson and Alabama have split the last four national titles and have met in the playoffs four straight years. This is the third time since 2016 that Clemson and Alabama open the season holding the top two spots in the AP poll.

The Big Ten leads all conferences with seven teams in the top 25, followed by the Southeastern Conference with six, the Pac-12 with five, the Big 12 with three, the Atlantic Coast Conference with two, the American Athletic Conference with one and one independent.

Georgia, heavy favorites to win the SEC East Division, came in at No. 3, followed by reigning Big 12 champion Oklahoma, reigning Big Ten champion Ohio State, Louisiana State, Michigan, Florida, Notre Dame and Texas to round out the top 10.

Oregon, the top-ranked Pac-12 team, is No. 11, followed by Texas A&M, Washington, Utah, Penn State, Auburn, Central Florida, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa to close out the top 20. The final five ranked teams are No. 21 Iowa State, then Syracuse, Washington State, Nebraska and Stanford.

South Carolina and Mississippi State from the SEC also received votes. 

Ohio State is ranked in the preseason for the 31st consecutive season, the longest current streak and third-longest of all time.

After a 4-8 debut season under Scott Frost, Nebraska is back in the preseason poll for the first time since 2014, ending the team's longest drought from the preseason poll since the 1950s.

Iowa State begins the season ranked for the first time since 1978 and just the second time in team history.

Texas A&M and South Carolina share something in common with each scheduled to play the top three teams in the preseason poll. Only three times in the history of the AP poll has a team played the top three teams in the preseason poll - and one of them was Missouri.

In 1968, Northwestern went 0-3 against Purdue, Southern California and Notre Dame.

In 1972, Minnesota went 0-3 against Nebraska, Colorado and Ohio State.

In 1975, Al Onofrio's Missouri Tigers went 1-2 against Oklahoma, Alabama and Michigan with the win coming over No. 2 Alabama to open the season.

Mizzou last appeared in the AP preseason top 25 in 2015, checking in at No. 24. That season, Gary Pinkel's last coaching the Tigers, unraveled after a 3-0 start and ended with a 5-7 record.

Here's some promising poll trivia for Mizzou: The team's two best seasons this century began outside of the AP poll, both 2007 and 2013, when the Tigers won 12 games, reached their conference championship game and played in January bowl games.

Odom's Tigers didn't receive a single vote in the Coaches' Poll released earlier this month because of the NCAA sanctions slapped on the program in January. The American Football Coaches Association has a rule that its members are not allowed to vote for teams under significant sanctions, including a postseason ban. For that reason, USA Today, which compiles and publishes the weekly coaches poll, leaves sanctioned teams off its ballot. Should the NCAA's Infractions Appeals Committee overturn the team's postseason ban sometime this fall, Mizzou will eligible for the coaches poll ballot.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Dave Matter brings you the latest updates on the Mizzou sports scene.

 
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