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.

Please follow me on Twitter:

www.twitter.com/MrCFB

474 comments Add your comment

TampaGator

August 20th, 2010
10:24 am

Boys…….either Florida, Georgia, or South Carolina will win the East.
Either Bama, Auburn, LSU…and I think MSU is a long shot….will win the West. Being homophobic or insulting will make no difference for determining the winnner of the SEC this year. In the East, Georgia will win if their QB plays at a high level early and continues playing that way all year. SC will win if their QB plays smart and their OL is highly improved. Florida will win if the highly talented freshman contribute and Brantley does not get hurt. So, boys, it is obviously a toss up as to who wins the East or the West. I am looking forward to them all playing the game.

TampaGator

August 20th, 2010
10:26 am

P.S. Plus…..I think Florida’s offense will be much better than last year (if Brantley does not get hurt) and their defense is much faster and bigger….but less experienced….but not less talented.

dawgfan

August 20th, 2010
10:27 am

Cracker Jacket, this is a blog about a preseason Top 5. I would ask that all Techies immediately cease and desist from commenting on this blog because your joke half azzed program has rarely even sniffed the top 5 of any poll. You are not qualified to comment on this topic and nobody cares what you have to say.

Now, if Tony writes a blog about the Top 20, the ACC Championship, losing bowl games, getting owned by UGA, or big overtime wins over Wake Forest, feel free to comment Techies. However, I doubt that will be happening because nobody cares. Sorry.

Munson

August 20th, 2010
10:27 am

Not buying that Brookhaven Gator is actually a UF fan. Saying that beating GT is a stretch for UGA is like saying that beating UGA is a stretch for UF these days.

Gotta love the bugs living vicariously through UF!

Bob Lablah

August 20th, 2010
10:27 am

Tank’s head is solid concrete. Saban has TWO NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS! Richt has never even played for one, dork!

Another Ed

August 20th, 2010
10:28 am

We all have opinions, and that is what makes this fun. None of us truly “knows” what will happen this season. Injuries, weather, and asking kids age 18-22 to play well week in and week out all can play havoc on a team.

As for ‘Bama-they may have as much or more talent than what graduated on defense. What they won’t have is that experience. That can be huge as we all know. Being incredibly talented does not always translate to doing well. I don’t know if the offense can be counted on to outscore other teams, so that D better grow up in a hurry.

The folks in Columbus are high on this team. Their QB is a great talent, their D is supposed to be fantastic, so they certainly may be lined up for a run to the championship game.

Texas reloads as well as anyone. Gilbert should do well. They and Florida seem to be in similar situations. Everyone has to rebuild occasionally, yet these guys seem to just load up with talent again and again.

As for Boise, I admit to being biased. I just don’t know how good they really are. If they blow out VT in the opener, I will start leaning their way. Give teams a whole off season to think about one game and you just never know how they will respond.

Thanks for doing this Tony. I, personally, look forward to your column during the season as well.

Ted B

August 20th, 2010
10:29 am

How many years did it take Saban to win a championship at Bama? Mark Richt may have more wins and be a nicer guy and most UGA fans enjoy being 10-2 or 9-3 instead of winning it all. Way to settle for mediocrity…
Bama will have a hard time going undefeated since every team will have it out for them, but it’s not impossible.
Roll Tide

Cracker Jacket

August 20th, 2010
10:30 am

Cracker Jacket will say anything he pleases anywhere, anytime. He pays no heed to any hydrant sniffing, leghumping fleabgs.

Beast from the East

August 20th, 2010
10:35 am

dawgfan,
Why don’t you take your own advice. I don’t see your team in the top 5 of Tony’s preseason poll, do you?

Cardinal Sin

August 20th, 2010
10:37 am

Hey Goalie Head,

GA sucks and FL doesn’t, that is the reason that they are ranked higher as they should be. You act like their program is the same as that lack luster program at GA that has not won JACK since 1980!

Unreal that you would even think that! FL has 3 NC’s and two within the last 5 years and you want to know why Tony has them ranked in the top 10!

Gators win the East again in 2010 and will mow GA down again in Jax. GA is not a threat to anyone in the East this year, trust me and everyone else that does not have them ranked as a top 10 program.

Give us a break!

Enough Said!

NoGaGator

August 20th, 2010
10:37 am

Always amusing with moronic comments from posters like Bucky and Goalie Head.

My biggest concern this year is Boise State. With virtually everyone returning from an undefeated BCS team last year, if they beat VT in the first game, they’ll be odds-on favorites to finish the season undefeated. Here’s their schedule:
Mon, Sept 6 * Virginia Tech*
Sat, Sept 18 * @ * Wyoming
Sat, Sept 25 Oregon State
Sat, Oct 2 * @ * New Mexico State
Sat, Oct 9 Toledo
Sat, Oct 16 @ San Jose State
Tue, Oct 26 Louisiana Tech
Sat, Nov 6 Hawaii
Fri, Nov 12 @ Idaho
Fri, Nov 19 Fresno State
Fri, Nov 26 @ Nevada
Sat, Dec 4 Utah State

With the possible exception of Oregon State – which Boise plays at home – this schedule is clearly lacking. Vandy could win the rest of these games.

I hope the good news is that IF Boise ends up in the NC game, the outcry will be enough to mandate a playoff system.

Here’s to a fun and exciting season.

GO GATORS!

Beast from the East

August 20th, 2010
10:41 am

NoGaGator,
You may well be right. I do think if they get past VT then they’ll certainly be undefeated. That would most likely mean any SEC team would get shut out of the big game. I can’t see anyone form the SEC making it through unblemished this year. Ohio State and Boise State in the BCSCG? If it happens, I’ll be rootin’ for OSU.

So dumb dogs

August 20th, 2010
10:42 am

The M.O. of dog fans is to talk down UF at every turn with points they HOPE is the case and with the matter of fact nature in acting that it will be the case. Its all done with a complete lack of knowledge of college football, florida’s coaches, Gator players and pretty much anything in football outside of having to do with UGA.

It gets worse every year and more comical with each and every failure of your team to back up your bravado and with reality kicking in every time UF proves your talk was nothing but reckless hope and BS.

It’s gotten to a point that I actually feel sad for UGA fans. I feel bad too for the many great Dog fans out there that there are people like Patrick/bucky/goalie head—whatever new name he’ll come up with next– just time and time and time again make the dognation as whole look like complete idiots. This guy is so dumb he actually thinks he make sense and he is so insecure that he must to continue to write the same BS that is the most irrelevant BS sane and rational people have ever heard.

I think UGA should change their names from the “bulldogs” to the “broken records” in honor of their most out spoken fans.

Ron Mexico

August 20th, 2010
10:49 am

Many have stated that 4 of the top 5 listed are overrated… yet no one has posted a better top 5 (with any rational explanations). You could probably shake these 5 (and even top 10) teams up and put them in any order without too much argument. Every team has a few question marks.

Cracker Jacket

August 20th, 2010
10:52 am

Even Tony, the fleabag homer, has Tech ranked ahead of the buttsniffers, as do all other polls except one insane one.

dowhatnow

August 20th, 2010
10:58 am

Hey Bucky, what’s Marks’s winning percentage against other head coaches who have never won a NC?

Goalie Head

August 20th, 2010
11:00 am

NoGaGator – your mom was amusing, and moronic
GO DAWGS – GATORS SUCK

Bucky

August 20th, 2010
11:01 am

GoalieHead – i like your style

NoGaGator – im gonna poop on your chest!!!

RxDawg

August 20th, 2010
11:03 am

Gatorbait 17-3

I think you’ve got me mixed up with someone else.

Can UGA fans get more delusional

August 20th, 2010
11:05 am

Over and over and over again UGA fans want to claim UF won’t be squat without Tebow and say it as if Tebow played all 22 positions and coached offense and defense. Well it may have been some really cool optical illusion but Im pretty sure I never saw Tebow play one down of Defense the past 2 years when UF was dominating Richt, Bobo and UGA’s offense. Yes Charlie Strong is gone as well but I’m also fairly certain I never saw him out there playing any downs on D as well.

Just when I thought I've seen it all

August 20th, 2010
11:06 am

Bucky

August 20th, 2010
11:01 am
GoalieHead – i like your style

NoGaGator – im gonna poop on your chest!!!

Wow…now 2 of Patrick’s personalities are talking to each other. Can’t get much sadder than that.

17 of 20

August 20th, 2010
11:11 am

The Gators will win the SEC this year. They have the best players and the best coaches, plus Georgia’s quarterback is vertically challenged.

Gtax

August 20th, 2010
11:11 am

**** Nesbitt for Heismen ****

((( 45 – 42 )))

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
11:13 am

for #1 Modern era

Your point is well taken. I’m a Bama fan, but think the OU teams of the 50s (Wilkinson), and the Switzer teams of the 70s, take a back seat to no one. I’ve never understood why they’ve received to little recognition.

as to 2010

I think it is possible for Bama to repeat. Here are my reasons:

(a) Three of their toughest games (PSU, UF, and AU) are at home. PSU is dealing with a lot of rebuilding issues on offense. UF has a lot of question marks on offense, and is adjusting to a new DC. AU may be the toughest team on the schedule, but still have some depth issues on defense. If AU can get to the end of November without a lot of walking wounded, then Bama may be in for a long day.

(b) Replacing the started on defense is a little over played because of the number of players Bama typically rotates during a game (i.e. Darius was not a starter for much of last season). The seconday is the biggest challenge for the coaching staff, but the talent is there.

(c) The offense should be improved enough to take some of pressure off of the defense and special teams/

aztec

August 20th, 2010
11:18 am

wow so many experts, i will wait till at least oct 15th to try and figure things out, in the mean time go AZTECS and GA STATE PANTHERS

aztec

August 20th, 2010
11:20 am

TONY any change bill curry and his panthers only lose to alabama?

Fred

August 20th, 2010
11:20 am

Well it wasn’t hard to “guess” who the top five in this list were going to be now was it?

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
11:21 am

ouch!!!!

I was hoping no one would bring up Ga State

Gatorzone

August 20th, 2010
11:24 am

As long as Florida kicks the living SH!T out of UGA (as usual) it will be a good year! I am sure I will not be disappointed!

:-)

aztec

August 20th, 2010
11:30 am

except for fans of the WAC and MOUNTAIN WEST everyone in the country will be rooting for VIRGINIA TECH that 1st weekend.

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
11:33 am

I’ll probably pull for VaTech, I’m a Beamer fan. But it wouldn’t disappoinment me if Boise ran the table……anything to speedup a playoff

Mikey in SAV

August 20th, 2010
11:34 am

Va Tech will put Boise State back in their place game one, thus their lofty raking will disappear.
The OHio ST will lose to THE U second game this year and they too will drop like a rock.

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
11:37 am

there are some really good matchups in early September. If the Bama-PSU game is anything like the ones played in the 70s and 80s, it will be a classic.

DP

August 20th, 2010
11:39 am

Did a Georgia fan really write this about Ohio State?

“Ohio State is a laughably overrated phony and I am offended that I even have to read about these pretenders.”

Clarification

August 20th, 2010
11:39 am

WAC fans don’t like Boise either.

Lloyd Christmas

August 20th, 2010
11:45 am

That Bucky is one funny guy.

aztec

August 20th, 2010
11:48 am

not any more clarification but boise still wac this year and im pretty sure wac fans will be pulling for boise st but you could be right.

Chi Town

August 20th, 2010
11:48 am

Wish Bama played the Mutts this year.

Saban would give Richt a spaking he would never forget.

Richt wouldnt even be able to do his cool dives in the UGAY aquatic center anymore.

what?

August 20th, 2010
11:49 am

Gator17-3 AND OTHER LONG WINDED GATOR FANS:

Chuck Heater must be about 75 years old if he coached with all those people.

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
11:49 am

Bucky= Patrick Sulley= goalie head= Randy from yesterday

Bucky and goalie head are the same person and is most likely Patrick Sulley. He posts everyday under a different handle and sometimes uses anywhere from 2-4 different handles and has conversations with himself. Yesterday he was Randy. The day before he was someone else.

You know its him because he posts the same exact drivel over and over, matter of fact I think he just copies and pastes the same couple of paragraphs over and over and puts them under the new handle name. Just ignore the weasel and he goes away

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
11:51 am

after that explanaton, I feel like I have a goalie head

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
11:52 am

i was having a lot of conversations with myself early in the week, but the meds seem to have helped.

Yes they have!

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
11:53 am

Just when I thought I’ve seen it all,

A few nights ago Patrick was using 4 different handles all having a conversation with himself and saying the same thing. I’m thinking this guy needs some psychiatric help.

dawgfan

August 20th, 2010
11:53 am

DP, I sure as hell did. What exactly has happened that should make me bow down to the Buckeyes? Please answer the question. I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I could care less about their BCS appearances. Look what happens when they get there. They clearly don’t belong. They’re damn lucky they didn’t cross paths with my Dawgs in ‘07. Those pretenders would have been mince meat pal.

You watch too much ESPN.

what?

August 20th, 2010
11:55 am

GTax:

<<<<>>>>>!!!!!!!!

what?

August 20th, 2010
11:56 am

GTax:

51-7!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
11:57 am

re: Chuck Heater

few people know this, but Chuck was Pop Warner’s first grad assistant.

fishtales

August 20th, 2010
11:58 am

Tide Rising-
That’s the easy way out. When Patrick/Bucky/Goalie/Randy spits these embarrassingly stupid stats out day after day and then starts to talk to himself, I don’t hear the insults he is trying to lay on us Bama fans, I hear a cry for help. Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are serious mental issues and if ignored they can only become worse.
RTR

what?

August 20th, 2010
11:59 am

Yeah, right Chi Town!!!!

BTW, what is a “spaking”?
Bama is lucky they don’t play Georgia this year (Richt is 3-1 vs. Elephants)

what?

August 20th, 2010
12:00 pm

3rdn8:

I thought he was Pop Warner’s first coach.