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

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
12:04 pm

dawgfan,

Ohio State has certainly had their troubles with the SEC but likewise Michigan has had a pretty good amount of success against the SEC.

We all love to pick on Ohio State because of a few sec blowouts over them but just remember that every year and every team is different. Ohio State did beat a great miami team in 2002 for the title and that was a miami team that people were saying was a dynasty. They were defending champs and had something like a 23 game winning streak going into that title game. It had a controversial ending of course but bottom line is that OSU did in fact play toe to toe with Miami.

Also, everybody remembers how dominating and powerful those Nebraska teams were in the mid 90s-just spanking people including sec teams like Florida and Tenn. left and right. And I mean downright buttwhoopings. What people forget is that before Nebraska lost a close title game in 93 against FSU and then broke through in 94 they were a lot like the way people regard Ohio State today. They had lost something like 8 bowl games in a row and most of those losses were blowouts. They had zero respect from other conferences the way OSU gets zero respect from SEC fans. But OSU has gotten better. They lost to Texas 2 years ago in the Fiesta bowl but that was a game that OSU physically dominated and shoulda, coulda won. Evan Texas fans will tell you that they were shocked in the way OSU physically dominated the line of scrimmage. Don’t let yesteryear cloud your judgement. The buckeyes have gotten better and are a team to be reckoned with.

crackhead

August 20th, 2010
12:06 pm

i’m seeing the dogs in the top 10 soon………….

JMac12203

August 20th, 2010
12:07 pm

Bucky, all I am going top add is that I needed to read all your delusions today. I really needed some laughs, and you provided a boatload.

Beast from the East

August 20th, 2010
12:08 pm

Tide Rising,
I agree with you about OSU. They have a great coach and are always loaded with talent. Just happened to run up against some very talented teams that were highly motivated. Opponents would be wise not to dismiss them.

horrible

August 20th, 2010
12:08 pm

What the blank have you seen out of Ohio State over the past several years to warrant ranking them #2? Give me a break.

Why didn’t you just cut and paste every other preseason top 5 out there? Can you seriously not think for yourself?

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
12:08 pm

fishtales,

I hope that’s not the case but its just plain bizarre to have 2-4 different handles all agreeing and having the same conversation with himself and spewing the same stuff day after day. I’ve learned to ignore him and a few days ago I sarcastically agreed with him that Saban sucks and Richt is the best coach in the sec. Believe it or not it got him to just shut up and go away.

crackhead

August 20th, 2010
12:10 pm

herbstreet is the reason buckeyes are always brought up in polls.

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
12:11 pm

Beast,

Did you see my 11:49 post? I figured this out a few days ago. Really easy to spot him now since he just cuts and pastes the same paragraphs every day.

BAMA STAN

August 20th, 2010
12:11 pm

13 NATIONAL TITLES – 22 SEC TITLES!!!

It’s great to be ranked #1 – even if it is pre-season.

With that said – it’s NOT about the wins – it’s all about the losses!!!!

– Easiest Path to NT game – Ohio State
– Teams to beat in the SEC – EAST – Florida, WEST – Alabama
– Dark Horse team – LSU in the WEST, Georgia in the EAST
Watch out for LSU – Defense will be better – Running game should be better – and if they get QB play – they will be a handfull.

Will Bama repeat? Just might do it – and cautiously optimistic – but I doubt it – history is not on our side – and while we have the athletes – we have too many new faces in key starter positions.
IF we can cone together as a team early – watch out.

LSU? – This could be Les Miles best team – don’t laugh – just wait and see.

Georgia – Sure are a lot of IF’s on this team. IF Grantham…IF the 3/4 …… IF Aaron Murray ………….IF turn overs …….IF LB depth…….IF the new D-LINE…….. see what I mean?

With that said – I really like this team and the attitude in Athens. These guys seem to can’t wait to get on the field.
I say UGA is undefeated until Florida.

And one more thing……………………………………..

ROLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL TIDE!

chazzo

August 20th, 2010
12:12 pm

I can’t help but notice that among #4 – #25 there are many schools who are replacing a QB and/or a defensive coach (or other coach) and/or losing other key players. Let’s face it. Outside of the top three here (Alabama being great, the other two being real good), everything is a crap shoot.

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
12:15 pm

horrible,

I was convinced by Ohio State when watching the Texas game 2 years ago. That and last year in the bowl season the big 10 represented itself pretty well- OSU, Iowa, Penn State were all physically tough and impressive and the big 10 had a winning bowl season. I can put my SEC homerism aside and see a physically tough team like those 3 when they show up and win.

G8R GRAD

August 20th, 2010
12:16 pm

JumbeauxTiger:

I agree, but who will win the rematch in Atlanta?

CharlotteGator:

Sage comentary, as usual.

HabershamDawg:

Finally, a ranking I can agree with!

Welocome back, mi amigo!

Beast from the East

August 20th, 2010
12:16 pm

Tide Rising,
I would agree with you except that I can’t recall Patrick doing any of the nasty name-calling that some of the others have done. Maybe he’s cloned himself? That’s a scary thoguht!

IRISH25

August 20th, 2010
12:16 pm

Notre Dame suprises everyone this year and walks away with the title…….mark it down!!

Gatorbait 17-3

August 20th, 2010
12:16 pm

Only place UGA will rank in the top 10 will be yards given up per game, these guys were
terrible last year and this year they are learning a new system——-you can’t play and think
at the same time, then again some of the players can’t walk and think at the same time.

G8R GRAD

August 20th, 2010
12:17 pm

Ooops.

JumbeauxTiger:

I agree, but who will win the rematch in Atlanta?

CharlotteGator:

Welocome back, mi amigo!
Sage comentary, as usual.

HabershamDawg:

Finally, a ranking I can agree with!

STUNG AGAIN!!!

August 20th, 2010
12:18 pm

T.R.,COULD THE TRUE IDENTITY OF THIS PERSON BE NONE OTHER THAN….HERSCHEL WALKER!!!

Paul in RDU

August 20th, 2010
12:18 pm

Relevant time periods according to some UGA fans
vs GT – Last 9 years or last 45 years or all of history – the series was even up until Dooley came in / segregation ended but UGA has dominated since – caveat – the Goff years didn’t happen
vs UF – all of history (got to make sure that 15-3-2 record before WW II is included – that counts just as much as 3-17 in the last 20 years)
vs ALA – since 2002 (got to ignore that pesky 21-35-3 record before then)
vs UT – last 10 years (got to ignore the 9 game losing sreak before then)

Relevant time period according to GT fans
last 2 years

BAMA STAN

August 20th, 2010
12:18 pm

13 NATIONAL TITLES – 22 SEC TITLES!!!

It’s fun to heckle OHIO STATE due the bowl losses against SEC teams – but better respect this coach, the university and their success. They have a great program – a great tradition and if in the SEC – would have their share of titles. OHIO STATE is one of the Elite – and are consistently very very good. If they continue to position themselves in the NT game – they will win yet another NT one day.

This could be the year for Ohio State.

GatorGuy

August 20th, 2010
12:21 pm

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

What Dawg Fans were saying in…

August 1997 – UF has no chance now that they lost Danny Wuerffel. The last 7 games have been a fluke and UGA will return to dominance! (well, y’all did win the game that year)

August 2001 – The streak is over now that we have Richt. He owned the Gators when he was at FSU. (Richt’s career record is 2-7)

August 2002 – The streak is over! The gators cannot win without Spurrier (UGA is 2-6 since SOS left. That includes a win over lame duck Zook)

August 2010 – The streak is over! The Gators cannot win without Tebow and Strong!

Anyone see a pattern here?

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
12:21 pm

BamaStan,

You are right on all counts. History is definitely not on our side and of great concern is our kicking game.

As for the dawgs there are a lot of ifs-freshman qb, 6 new defensive starters, lb depth, etc. But they do have a great O-line which can anchor a team, superman wr AJ Green, Ealey is gonna be a good back, and in Athens I see a refreshing new optimism with new coaches. It may take them several games or a year to fully adjust to the new 3-4 but they should certainly be better this year. I’m pegging 10 wins for the dawgs if Murray can manage games and minimize mistakes. I still have the gators winning the east though.

Same with us. 10 wins but I think we drop a game or 2 in the regular season. Florida game is a toss up and somebody is going to upset us- I’m guessing Ole Miss or Carolina. SEC champ could well be a 2 loss team.

Munson

August 20th, 2010
12:22 pm

“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.”

I will not defend Goalie Head or Bucky because they give delusional a whole new level of meaning. However, Gator fans repeatedly said that the ONLY reason UGA beat them in 2007 was because Tebow had a bum shoulder. UGA fans countered with the argument that he did not play all 22 positions, but Gator fans could not admit that it had nothing to do with Tebow. You can’t have it both ways!

UF will still have a very good team this year, but you cannot tell me that you will not take a big hit in losing a player of Tebow’s caliber. Brantley may be good, but that remains to be seen at this point.

Paul in RDU

August 20th, 2010
12:23 pm

Tide Rising
I am glad you can recognize a good, physically tough Big 10 team when you see one – TB can’t.
Somehow he has South Carolina, Arkansas, Clemson, LSU and Auburn ranked above Penn State.
PSU has some questions on offense but I expect them to give Alabama a much tougher game (though losing) than any other team on the schedule except UF

M. Bagwell

August 20th, 2010
12:23 pm

You people don’t have much to do, do you? Must be the economy.

AD formerly known as Daddy Damon

August 20th, 2010
12:24 pm

Goliehead & NoGaGator:

Herschel?
Is that you?

Beast from the East

August 20th, 2010
12:24 pm

Gator Guy,
It’s most likely wishful thinking. We’ve been on the other end of that streak and I remember our fans saying the same type of things. “Wait till next year” was our battle cry during the 70’s and much of the 80’s. It’ll even back out sooner or later (hopefully later).

Paul in RDU

August 20th, 2010
12:27 pm

BAMA STAN @12:18

With that said – it’s NOT about the wins – it’s all about the losses!!!!

Excellent point!

Beast from the East

August 20th, 2010
12:27 pm

Munson,
The reason UF lost to UGA in ‘07 was because our defense got steamrolled by your offense. Tebow’s injury did change the playcalling on offense, but that had absolutely nothing to do with our pourous defense that day. We just got whooped!

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
12:28 pm

Stung again,

Man that was cold. I shamefully laughed out loud but as DP or someone said mental illness is something we probably shouldn’t be laughing about. I’m sure someone on here has a relative suffering from bi-polar or schizophrenia and its probably caused them their fair share of heartache.

G8R GRAD

August 20th, 2010
12:31 pm

BamaStan:

On most points, I agree.
However, the dark horse award, INHO, goes to the “other” Tigers.
They are a much improved team over last year’s squad and the Tide was lucky to get out of Auburn alive last year!

G8R GRAD

August 20th, 2010
12:34 pm

JumbeauxTiger said it first:

A 10-2 UF will play an 11-1 UA in the SECCG.
Can the Tide beat the Gators twice?

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
12:35 pm

Paul in RDU,

We’re a little lucky in catching Penn State in what may be a down year for them. 3 straight 11 win seasons. Hard to sustain that kind of momentum and they did lose a good number of key starters. They are still a physically tough team though with a lot of good talent back. They got a coach who has won a couple games too. We’ve had a great series with Penn State through the years and I’m headed back up to state college next year for a game. Been there before. Had a great time and the country around PSU is beautiful. Great atmosphere up there for college football.

I don’t remember if Tony had Wisconsin in the top 25. I think and hope he did. That’s another pretty decent big 10 team. TB may have been a little bit of a homer in having so many SEC and ACC teams in the top 25. He may have left out some decent western teams like Oregon State and maybe a MWC team or 2.

5IML

August 20th, 2010
12:35 pm

G8R,

Herbstreit also thinks Auburn will surprise a lot of folks this year. I see 9-4 with an Iron Bowl beatdown and New Year’s Day win for the Tigers.

Cotton

August 20th, 2010
12:38 pm

This whole Boise State thing drives me crazy. #5 in the country? Com’ on! Tony – if you had to bet the house on Boise State vs. Va Tech straight up, who are you going to take? There isn’t a realistic, knowledgeable football guy in the country (outside of Idaho – and that’s a whole nother story) that would take Boise. Having been to a game on the Goose Pond, it’s JV ball! Sure the Statue of Liberty was cool, but it’s a gimmick and everyone is falling for it. Does anyone on here think that if Boise State had played Florida in the Sugar Bowl last season that they wouldn’t have got RUN just like Cinncinnati? Come on’! Wake up! Go back and watch the 2005 game against Georgia. 48-13 with Shockley taking Victory Formation in the 3rd quarter. Drives me nuts!

Beast from the East

August 20th, 2010
12:39 pm

I think Auburn’s season will surely be decided by their defense. They have to show improvement over last year. The offense should be dangerous. The SEC might be a pretty high-scoring league this year. Lot’s of questions on the defenses for many teams.

Bama Rules

August 20th, 2010
12:40 pm

No team in the SEC can match Bama’s talent. Look for an easy SEC title again, and a matchup with Ohio State in the title game—Saban will take tressel to school, just like he did with mack brown.

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
12:40 pm

this tiresome and sometimes shameful conjecture on this forum needs to be banned. We should be expending our energies on more important topics. Such as:

Question – What if Robert E. Lee had available a squadron of A-10s at Gettysburg?

Answer – The SEC would be comprised of 160 teams. There would be a two game pre-season, then a ten game regular season. This would be followed by a playoff that ends with a championship game the week after the conclusion of the NBA finals.

5IML

August 20th, 2010
12:40 pm

TR,

I feel the PSU game will go like the Va Tech game last year. We will dominate statistically but only win by 14 or so points. Oppressive, sweltering heat coupled with a brand new QB and linebackers will be their undoing. BAMA’s defensive and special teams mistakes will keep the score respectable.

Roll Tide Roll

August 20th, 2010
12:42 pm

The only regret of Bama winning the Championship will be Tebow won’t be there on the big screen crying again !!!!!!!!!!!

uhoh

August 20th, 2010
12:42 pm

Texas had Bama on the ropes last year would have won by 20 if not for McCoy going down. Bama should have lost to Tenn also. Luck runs out this year-3 maybe four losses. FL, AUB, Arky, ?
The Saban bubble is about to burst…

G8R GRAD

August 20th, 2010
12:44 pm

5IML:

I don’t see 4 losses.
I have to go with a 10-3 season for the Plainsmen.

Beast:

Does that mean the SEC is the new Big 12?

3rdn8:

That’s funny, right there.
I don’t care who ya are!

5IML

August 20th, 2010
12:46 pm

uhoh,

Saban’s bubble has already burst. He was looking forward to no bloggers being envious and fearful of him this year but you just ruined it for him.

How2fish

August 20th, 2010
12:46 pm

Beast from the East @ 12:27 are you sure your a Gator fan..LOL I’ve never heard a Gator say anything about that loss that didn’t have something to do with dancing as the cause..man I can’t wait for the games to begin its getting old talking “what might be” or “what we did last year or the in the past” lets play ball!

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
12:48 pm

G&R Grad

thank you…..and….I don’t care who I am either.

How2fish

August 20th, 2010
12:48 pm

Roll Tide Roll if Bama repeats you can rest assured that Tebow will be crying somewhere!

what?

August 20th, 2010
12:48 pm

Stung again:

Who does your handle refer to? Weak Forest? Because you sure as he!! have not nor will not sting the Dawgs!!

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
12:49 pm

G8R GRAD,

We did it in 99 winning in Gainesville and then 34-7 in the seccg. But that doesn’t really matter since its just history. Its really tough to beat a top 5 team twice in one season. FSU found that out in 96.

I’m hoping that if we win the 1st game and are fortunate enough to win the west that we would play Carolina or UGA in the seccg. It would be easier to beat one of them one time then to beat the gators twice. It can be done but like I said. Its quite a tall task to have to beat Florida twice in one season let alone once.

5IML

August 20th, 2010
12:49 pm

G8R,

I think there will be something crazy (e.g. losing to Kentucky) that will get them to four losses. Newton will have a pretty good year but they simply lack the depth on defense to sustain success this year.

G8R GRAD

August 20th, 2010
12:50 pm

BTW, 5IML, help me out.
What gives with your handle?

d bagg

August 20th, 2010
12:51 pm

What happend 5, 10, 15 years ago is irrelevant because those players are no longer with the program, and many teams have different coaches. Nobody cares if the SEC was strong 4 years ago. Last year, they were an overrated mess outside of Tim Tebow and Alabama. Just look at the bowl games last year.