Countdown to No. 1: Can Alabama handle the expectations?

It’s been a fun week counting down our Top 25 teams for 2010. It will come as no surprise to you that I have Alabama at No. 1.

Yes, Alabama has to replace nine starters on defense and both of its kickers. And logically, the Crimson Tide should not be able to win a second straight national championship. Nobody has done it since Nebraska in 1994-95. But I’m putting a lot of this preseason ranking on two things:

1. Alabama has a lot of really, really good players. They played a bunch of people on defense last season and so replacing all those starters will not be as complicated as it might seem.

2. If any coach can guide his team through the mental mine field of trying to win consecutive championships, it is Nick Saban. This season, more than anything else, will be an exercise in mental toughness at Alabama. Saban and his staff do that well.

So here we go. Here is our preseason Top Five for 2010:

 

1. Alabama

 **–It will be a good season if: The Crimson Tide goes 12-0 for the third straight regular season and reaches the SEC championship game. If that happens they will win in Atlanta again and play for another BCS title. Alabama last won back to back national championships in 1978-79.

**–It will be a disappointing season if: They stumble on the road against Arkansas on Sept 25 or at home against Florida on Oct. 2. It’s not fair, but anything less than an undefeated regular season is going to be a disappointment.

 2. Ohio State

**–It will be a good season if: The Buckeyes win their two toughest road games at Wisconsin (Oct. 16 at night) and Iowa (Nov. 20) and get another shot at an SEC team in the BCS championship game. It looks like coach Jim Tressel is finally ready to turn quarterback Terrelle Pryor loose. If Pryor plays the way he did against Oregon in the Rose Bowl, the Buckeyes are going to be hard to beat.

**–It’s will be a disappointing season if: They are not ready to play when Miami, a very athletic team, comes to the Horseshoe on Sept. 11. Lose that one and the Buckeyes will have a tough time getting to the big game. Miami has the physical talent to go to the Horseshoe and win. My CSS broadcast partner, Brady Ackerman, has already picked the Hurricanes in that game. I’m not so sure.

3. Texas

**–It will be a good season if:  Texas successfully reshapes its offense to emphasize the run and the Longhorns win back-to-back games against Oklahoma (Oct. 2 in Dallas) and at Nebraska (Oct. 16). With Gilbert Garrett at quarterback, Texas will have a more traditional, pro-style offense. Garrett came off the bench in the national championship game against Alabama and showed that he will be a good player for the Longhorns.

**–It will be a disappointing season if: The losses of quarterback Colt McCoy (45 career wins) and defensive stars like Sergio Kindle and Earl Thomas are too much to overcome. If Texas loses to Oklahoma on Oct. 2, then they could get eliminated in the division with a loss at Nebraska. A 10-2 or 11-2 record still gets Texas in a BCS bowl.

 4. Florida

**–It will be a good season if: The Gators, despite the loss of Tim Tebow and five NFL draft choices off the defense, reach the SEC championship game for the third straight season. Over the past five years Florida has recruited as well as anyone and will plug those holes with some very talented people. Also, the pressure is off. Alabama is wearing the crown and so I expect Florida to be a much more relaxed football team than it was a year ago, when the Gators were anything but relaxed.

**–It will be a disappointing season if: New quarterback John Brantley struggles and the Gators slip up somewhere other than Tuscaloosa on Oct. 2. We simply don’t know what the defense is going to do with a bunch of new faces, including new defensive coordinators Teryl Austin and Chuck Heater. How much will Florida miss long-time DC Charlie Strong, now the head coach at Louisville?

5. Boise State

**–It will be a good season if: The Broncos go undefeated for the second straight season and are rewarded with a spot in the BCS championship game. I still think it is a long shot for Boise because to get to Glendale it means all of the champions in the Big Six conferences would have to have a loss. The real question is whether or not a 12-0 Boise would go to the BCS championship ahead of a one-loss champ from the SEC, Big Ten,  ACC or Big 12?

**–It will be a disappointing season if: With 21 of 22 returning starters, the Broncos stumble out of the gate and lose to Virginia Tech on Sept. 6 in Landover, Md.  If that happens, the Broncos can still get to a BCS Bowl, maybe even the Rose, but they won’t play in the Big Game.

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474 comments Add your comment

Who Cares

August 22nd, 2010
3:35 pm

All you Tide lovers and Gator lovers…Who Cares what you think. Meyer is an idiot and a liar and always has been. He takes credit for everyone elses hard work. Notice when Tebow left how many of his coaches also bailed out….they all hated Meyer because he’s a pompous jerk. He’s been lucky…very lucky…this season is going to prove that he’s not a good coach. As soon as the Gators start to lose he’ll start pointing fingers at everyone but himself..that’s his track record. Brantley IS NOT Tebow. He won’t be able to save Meyer’s butt in close games like Tebow used to…..Saban’s a good coach…but history will show you his teams have been unable to win consistantly from one season to the next….and let’s get real….I don’t care what anyone say’s…you can’t lose nine starters on defense and keep winning..not in the SEC…ain’t gonna happen. The Tide will be good ..just not as good as their fans want everyone to think they’ll be…….But you Gaytor and Tide fans keep patting yourself on the back and telling each other how good you are while the rest of the college football world laughs behind your back….a little humility goes a long way when it comes to wins and losses.

The Urban legend

August 22nd, 2010
3:43 pm

Who cares?,

Obviously you do. Why else you so jealous of Urban Meyer and Saban. been looking at some a these posts. someone using all these handles is gone mad over nick saban . must be the same guy all mad about the Urban legend now. Georgia is a 2nd rate team well behind florida and bammer. get used to it boy. 17 out of 20 don’t lie. 2 bcs titles in 5 years at flroida dont lie. you can be mad and jealous all u want it aint gonna change things and it shore as hell aint gonna change the gator’s dominance over georgia, one two three fo, five, dem gators dont take no jive! 17 out of 20 bout to be 18 out of 21. get over it and deal with it

Speedy Gone

August 22nd, 2010
3:43 pm

Dogs picked up anotehr recruit for the Dream Team today. Chris Mays, 6′ 4” 300 lb. DL who can play NT or DE. This 2011 class will probably finish #1 in the country, just might be the best Richt’s had, they’re going to win a bunch of games, fasten on that chinstrap.

Hurry Up O

August 22nd, 2010
3:47 pm

You gotta like Georgia’s RB tandem, averaging more than Alabama or Florida’s over last 5 games. You gotta like Georgia’s O-Line’s experience of 155 starts–more than Bama or Gators. You gotta like AJ Green over Julio, Gators got nobody at WR that matches AJ. You gotta like our punter and kicker over Bama’s & Gator’s. You gotta like Charles and White over Bama’s & Gator’s. You gotta like Grantham’s experience over Smart’s or the Gator guy (can’t remember, they get a new one ever month).

Delusions of grandeur

August 22nd, 2010
4:04 pm

More delusional dawg fans showing up every day.

Speedy gone,

Where is georgia’s recruiting class ranked right now? 6th? Have they ever finished #1? Nope! Good luck catching Texas which already has 7 5 star players committed.

Hurry up O,

If Georgia is so good why did they only finish 8-5 last year? How come they’re only ranked 23rd in the country while Bama is no. 1 and Florida #4?

Good luck with that freshman qb. Moron!

Good thing that you got Grantham who was your 5th choice behind Kirby Smart, Bud Foster at VT, John Chavis at LSU, Will Muschamp at Texas and 1 other guy. Where did Grantham’s defenses finish in his only 2 years as a coordinator in the NFL? 30TH out of 32 teams both times? Good luck with that! You guys are too funny.

Georgia’s running back tandem is better than Bama’s? Is that why Mark Ingram won a Heisman instead of Ealey? Is that why the 2 bama backs are both 1st and 2nd team preseason all sec? Does anyone outside of Georgia even know who Ealey is? Does anyone outside of Georgia know who Caleb King is? Wayyyyyyyyyyyy to funny! Bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Nesbitt for Heisman

August 22nd, 2010
7:07 pm

`
It will be a good season when Georgia Tech goes 14-0.

Hurry Up O

August 22nd, 2010
8:07 pm

If Alabama and Saban’s so good, why did he go 7-6 at Alabama? That’s about as odd a question as “Delusions of whatever…”

Digger Dogg

August 22nd, 2010
8:20 pm

Richt’s always a top recruiter, 2001-2009, varied from #3 class to #9. I think the 2011 will have the highest ranking on rivals and scout of any class Richt’s recruited yet. Starting out strong, with 16 commits already, Lemay alone is bringing in some big guns, if Crowell and Rome pick Georgia, and most have them picking Georgia right now, Richt could end up #1 with best QB, best TE, best RB, etc.

Digger Dogg

August 22nd, 2010
8:31 pm

If Georgia goes 14-0, which basically means beat the teams you normally beat, and whoop Florida, then all the recruits on the fence will get on the Georgia bandwagon and it will absolutely be the #1 recruiting class in the country, without a doubt.

Smitty

August 22nd, 2010
8:48 pm

Do you have to scream, yell, throw tantrums, wave your arms around a lot, to be called mentally tough by sports writers?

johnboy

August 22nd, 2010
9:19 pm

Richt didn’t even become OC at FSU until 1995….the streak of top 5 finishes started in 1987.
Also….excuse your ignorance as in 1979 and 80 FSU won a combined 21 games and lost to Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl both years. Was Richt helping Bowden as he was preparing to start his college playing career at UM?

Delusions of grandeur

August 22nd, 2010
9:22 pm

Digger Dog,

If the dogs go 14-0? Serious? A team that just went 8-5 and you’re talking about going undefeated. You should best leave that kinda talk to Bama and Florida fans. #1 recruiting class??? More delusional dawg fans.

Delusions of grandeur

August 22nd, 2010
9:27 pm

Digger Dog,

Beat the teams you normally beat? Like who? Tennessee which has spanked you 3 of the last 4 including 2 buttwhuppings. Or Kentucky which is one lucky Georgia hail mary pass away from beating the dogs 3 out of the last 4? hell they laid the wood to the dawgs in your own house last year and had your fans running for the exits with half the 4th qtr to go.

hind tit

August 22nd, 2010
9:58 pm

by being ranked number one leaves only one place to go and that’s down. just ask georgia.

navelman1952

August 22nd, 2010
10:14 pm

South Carolina has the defense to win the SEC east this year. They were 3rd in total defense in the SEC last year behind guess who, Alabama and Florida. Spurrier has the experienced QB and tons of skill players with receivers galore and running backs to put points on the board like he did at Florida. Only question mark is can the Offensive line give Garcia the protection so he can deliver the ball to those big 6′5″ receivers and open some holes for freshman RB Lattimore who is a top 5 recruit nationally. If Spurrier gets his offense going then the SEC will have a new kid at the top of the heap. Don’t be surprised if South Carolina is not playing for the SEC title in the Dome this year.

Dawg Plan

August 22nd, 2010
10:37 pm

South carolina will be mediocre again. Garcia’s not that good and spurrier will yank him early for the freshman QB. Ga will beat usc like a rented mule—Richt will really run up the score to get more votes in the polls. Ga 41 USC 20! It’s a wrap.

Tiger Town

August 22nd, 2010
10:39 pm

Saban will be looking for another nfl job soon. He’s only making $4-$5 mil at bama and he can make a lot more than that in the league. Plus, he’s tired of recruiting a bunch of 18 year old prima donnas and wants to get back to just coaching. He may last 1 more year—then off to the nfl, again.

supa

August 22nd, 2010
11:05 pm

OSU’s Class of 2008 #1 recruiting class is entering its Junior Season. History shows that these recruiting standings do correlate with team success. Florida and Alabama are prime examples. OSU over Boise State in the BCS Championship.

staugone

August 22nd, 2010
11:09 pm

Just reading thru this stuff it appears the Bulldog fans in particular and all you other losers have a particular hate on for the Tide and Gators….Problem is there is nothing you can do about it because those two teams are leap years ahead of the whiners…Just relax and take it like men…the Tide and Gators have the best two Coaches, the best two programs in the SEC and will play for the championship again….while you whiners set at home and sulk…

Bagelicious

August 22nd, 2010
11:22 pm

Usually, after a bad season, Richt rebounds big time, ok, he rebounds big time, every time. I remember back in 2002, everybody wrote the Dogs off, and Richt went 13-1, won the SEC, and should have been invited to the National Championship. Same thing happened in 2007, finished ranked #2, until ESPN lobbied against Georgia, was headed to the National Championship, and was dropped to #4. Richt’s knocked on the door twice at Georgia, time to go on in.

ckgator

August 23rd, 2010
5:31 am

Bagelicious – who did the Dogs lose to in 2003, and is that team on the schedule in 2010?

Exactly.

Tech Sting

August 23rd, 2010
11:05 am

The only time richt won anything big at uga was when florida and bama were down with bad coaches. Ga will not be relevant again for a long time. They may not win 9 games this year with that short QB.

CJK1337

August 23rd, 2010
5:00 pm

Come on guys, I like Richt as much as a straight man can, but the guy is not all that. Some of you act like there is a halo around his head, but yet he has more discipline problems than any other SEC coach. He’s a better coach than Saban? And how many NCs does Richt have on his resume as a head coach? He might be a better man than Saban (which will pay off in the long run), but he doesn’t have Saban’s killer instinct on the gridiron. Granted, Coach Saban’s year following the NC at LSU was somewhat disappointing, but he has stated that they lost focus and he has corrected that in his approach to the year following a title run. We’ll soon see if he has effectively accomplished that or not. And whoever throwed up the reason about giving away all those TDs in a scrimmage must not realize what a scrimmage is! They might line up on the 1 yrd line and scrimmage goal line formations for 8 plays. If the offense scores 5 out of 8 times, those figures are released to the media in the scrimmage stats and all of you make hay about it. Does that necessarily mean that the defense is weak? Come on guys! By the way, can I remind all of the Bama haters that at the beginning of last season, all fans of other teams in the SEC were reminding the Bama nation that Saban had never posted back to back 10 win seasons. We all know how that turned out. So this year is no different. All you Bama haters are looking for something to ease the pain of knowing that BAMA IS BACK and there is no stopping the freight train rolling out of Tuscaloosa on Sept 4…see ya in Tempe Baby!!! ROLL TIDE!!!

Palladin

August 23rd, 2010
11:25 pm

Mickey,

It doesn’t really matter if Nick Saban isn’t the best coach in the league. He’s coaching at the University of Alabama – even Bill Curry and Dennis Franchione could win there. Heck, Mike Shula won ten in a row in ‘05. If he hadn’t lost some key players to serious injuries, he might well have played for a NC. It’s not that hard to win at Bama.