Scotty McCreery is poised to claim the Number One spot when his first full-length effort ‘Clear as Day’ makes its debut on the charts next week. But will he actually pull it off?

It’s been nearly a decade since ‘American Idol‘ was able to turn all its ratings mojo into a Number One album debut for one of its contestants. The last one was Ruben Studdard, whose ‘Thankful’ bowed at the top of the charts way back in December 2003.

That’s definitely a long time, and in recent years, some have wondered if ‘American Idol’s’ days as a hit-making force are over.

Sales projections point to a final first-week tally between 160,000 and 170,000 units for McCreery, which would mark a substantial turnaround for ‘Idol’ winners. In comparison, last year’s champ Lee DeWyze moved only 39,000 copies of his debut during its first week, while the 2009 winner Kris Allen managed 80,000.

‘Clear as Day’ debuts during a relatively soft week for mainstream acts; its strongest competitors on the new release chart are the latest efforts from Jack’s Mannequin and Feist, as well as the first album from Mayday Parade. Industry prognosticators expect the top three to be rounded out by Adele‘s ’21′ and J. Cole‘s ‘Cole World: The Sideline Story.’

[Billboard]