ATHENS — Georgia ended last season on top of the college football world, but the Bulldogs opened ranked No. 3 in the first USA Today AFCA Coaches Poll released on Monday.

Defending SEC Champion Alabama was the overwhelming pick at No. 1, garnering 54 first-place votes, while Big Ten juggernaut Ohio State came in at No. 2.

The Tide brings back Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young and Nagurski Award winner Will Anderson, players some regard as the finest on offense and defense in the nation.

Georgia, which returns National FWAA Freshman of the Year Brock Bowers, actually had more first-place votes than the Buckeyes (6-5).

ACC dynamo Clemson and traditional powerhouse Notre Dame rounded out the Top 5.

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Texas, ranked No. 18, was curiously the only other program to receive a first-place vote from a panel that includes 65 FBS head coaches.

Coach Kirby Smart has brought unprecedented expectations to Georgia football, as this marks the fifth-straight season the Bulldogs are a preseason Top 5 team.

UGA is also riding a streak of five-straight finishes ranked in the Top 7.

Smart and his team started camp last Thursday determined not to experience any drop-off after having a record-15 players selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, including five first-round picks off the defense.

The Bulldogs open the season on Sept. 3 against No. 12 Oregon at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against former UGA defensive coordinator Dan Lanning.

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The Ducks are one of only two regular-season opponents for Georgia ranked in the preseason Top 25 with No. 21 being the other.

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Former Smart Georgia assistants Mel Tucker and Sam Pittman also have their teams ranked in the preseason Top 25.

Tucker’s Michigan State program is No. 14, while Pittman’s Razorbacks are No. 23.

USA Today AFCA Coaches Poll

1. Alabama

2. Ohio State

3. Georgia

4. Clemson

5 Notre Dame

6. Michigan

7. Texas A&M

8. Utah

9. Oklahoma

10. Baylor

11. Oklahoma State

12. Oregon

13. North Carolina State

14. Michigan State

15. Southern Cal

16. Pittsburgh

17. Miami

18. Texas

19. Wake Forest

20. Wisconsin

21. Kentucky

22. Cincinnati

23. Arkansas

24. Ole Miss

25. Houston

Others receiving votes: (SEC teams in bold):

Iowa 248; Penn State 246; Tennessee 163; Brigham Young 152; Louisiana State 143; Auburn 98; Central Florida 55; North Carolina 34; San Diego State 25; Fresno State 21; Mississippi State 19; Florida 17; Utah State 12; Air Force 12; UCLA 10; Boise State 10; Appalachian State 10; Minnesota 6; South Carolina 5; Kansas State 4; Iowa State 3; Army 3; UL Lafayette 2; Southern Methodist 2; Purdue 2; Oregon State 2; Coastal Carolina 2; Texas-San Antonio 1; Louisville 1; Florida State 1.