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

How2fish

August 20th, 2010
12:51 pm

Bama Rules there hasn’t been a “easy” SEC title since before the Bear died..Bama is the team to beat but for the love of the lord..”easy”..LOL!

ATL Tide Fan

August 20th, 2010
12:52 pm

For all those who are saying Richt has a better chance of repeating NC’s, let’s make one thing clear; you have to win a NC to have a chance of repeating one. Until Richt wins one STFU.

Munson

August 20th, 2010
12:53 pm

Beast, you are one of the only UF fans who will admit that. I cannot speak for all UGA fans, but I know your defense was horrible that year. It is just funny to hear some of these same UF fans who blamed the 2007 loss squarely on Tebow being hurt now saying that it will make no difference that he is gone.

I guess we all have our delusional fans….see Gator Chomp, Patrick Sully/Bucky/Randy/Goalie Head/whateven personality he comes up with next, GTax, etc.

How2fish

August 20th, 2010
12:53 pm

d bagg really bowl wins mean something after all….well don’t tell CPJ he might pull a Meyer meltdown if he knew that..

G8R GRAD

August 20th, 2010
12:53 pm

Tide Rising:

IMHO the Gators return to Atlanta wit two losses;

one in Tuscaloosa; and

one in Tallahassee.

But if we are fortunate enough to prevail in “Round Two,” where does a two loss SEC Champ go Bowling?

Delbert D.

August 20th, 2010
12:54 pm

Tide Rising – Thanks for that post. The incidence of kids born who are on the autistic spectrum is now 1 in 110, and 1 in 70 for boys. That frequently carries symptoms of bipolar personality disorder, among a whole range of disabling characteristics, physical and social. For the very lucky ones that are on the higher-functioning end of the spectrum, they may have Asperger’s syndrome. They are kids that are picked on in school as “geeks” or “nerds.” Einstein is believed to have been Asperger’s.

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
12:55 pm

the last two loss SEC champ (LSU) made to the show

Beast from the East

August 20th, 2010
12:59 pm

Yeah, 5IML. What’s with the handle?

G8R GRAD

August 20th, 2010
1:00 pm

Delbert:

I practiced for more than 20 years with a partner who, I am convinced, had Asperger’s.
One of the brightest guys I’ve ever met.

GatorGuy

August 20th, 2010
1:01 pm

Munson – True the D was really bad that year but I put some blame on the Offensive play calling. Tebow’s shoulder was toast but they tried to pretend that it was not. Either way, UGA was the better team that day.

5IML

August 20th, 2010
1:02 pm

G8R,

5IML = Five In My Lifetime

It’s the number of consensus national championships BAMA has won since I was born.

G8R GRAD

August 20th, 2010
1:03 pm

3rdn8:

Right, but unless the two loss SECCG winner is in the top 4 or 5, another conference winner (take your pick) with fewer losses probably goes to Glendale.
There is a palpable push back of resentment towards the SEC’s dominance of late and I fear such backlash will manifest itself in a two loss SEC champ going to a “lesser” bowl.

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
1:04 pm

hey G8R GRAD

surprised at your pick of FSU over UF. I’m not convinced the Seminoles will improve enough on defense this year to turn that series.

I look for Bama to take UF in Tuscaloosa……but if both make it back to Atlanta….not so sure

AlphaGator

August 20th, 2010
1:04 pm

Let the games begin…!

G8R GRAD

August 20th, 2010
1:06 pm

Hell, it might take the SEC champ being 3rd or 4th, to leapfrog into 2nd.

gdawginkalamazoo

August 20th, 2010
1:07 pm

IMO Terrell Pryor is just too dumb to get it over the course of a season. OSU will drop at least two games, one to a very good team (Iowa) and one they shouldn’t drop to a lousy team. They will probably win the Big Ten but not go for an NC. With the one or two loses they will get overlooked due to the history in the big games.

Auburn T

August 20th, 2010
1:09 pm

The baby mark ingram was crying like a little child when he got his heisman. What a wimp! Auburn beats bama this year–take it to the bank. Tigers are back in the West!

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
1:09 pm

I agree with the assessment that the world may be getting a bit weary of the SEC. I lean in that direction myself sometimes

Paul in RDU

August 20th, 2010
1:09 pm

5IML
And there was I thinking that you were a Dick Butkus fan #51 Middle Linebacker

Then I realized you had an I instead of a 1

Coach or not Meyers

August 20th, 2010
1:10 pm

Gosh..I’m so happy the fans love me but I just hope I don’t have an upset stomach during a game!!!

G8R GRAD

August 20th, 2010
1:11 pm

3rd:

I think the ‘Holes are to be feared & respected.
Coach Fisher is the real deal.
They will a much improved team this year, that and we play them at Doak-Campbell!

G8R GRAD

August 20th, 2010
1:13 pm

Paul!
Wow!
Good one.
I’d have never thought of that.

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
1:13 pm

have a good weekend everyone

enjoyed the conversation(s)

fishtales

August 20th, 2010
1:21 pm

Yeah Auburn T., he was crying after an incredible and rare achievement in a sport he has devoted his entire life to. Your biggest achievement is not splashing on the edge of the toilet.

5IML

August 20th, 2010
1:21 pm

I am a fan of Butkus’ play. I believe he was the second greatest (Lawrence Taylor) LB of all time. On that note, I’m reminded of how futile it is to compare teams/players from different eras. Butkus, in his playing days, he was only a little bigger than Mark Barron, BAMA’s current All-America safety.

Delbert D.

August 20th, 2010
1:23 pm

G8R GRAD – That doesn’t surprise me. Run down the names of the scientists that were on the Manhattan Project and there are a lot of possibles. It is a mystifying disorder; some have obviously high IQs, at the Asperger’s end, yet some with otherwise low function can recite every incident in their life exactly. Or play a piano concerto they have heard once. I don’t recall ever meeting or knowing about anyone with autism growing up, and now it’s 1 in 70.

5IML

August 20th, 2010
1:24 pm

Before the grammar cops issue a warrant for my arrest, I apologize for the double subject. It was due to an editing error, not ignorance of the rules of Standard American English.

TexasDawg

August 20th, 2010
1:25 pm

Paddy….I played High School football in Georgia and now live Texas. I played with and against players that stared at D1’s and played pro. I could name off about 15 to 25. From top to bottom kids from Ga are faster and bigger per the population. Texas has probably 10x the high school athletes to choose from. The games are good here at the High School level and Texans do love there football….Buford a 2a team from Ga played a 5a team from Texas couple years back…Buford crushed em…should have read the blogs…so fast and big…

How2fish

August 20th, 2010
1:28 pm

5IML great handle and Butkus was only a little bit bigger and a WHOLE lot slower than Barron..but he was a BEAST in his day! Him and Jack Ham ,Ted Stork , Willie Lanier and Jack Lambert were all of a breed we just don’t see anymore…

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
1:30 pm

G8R GRAD,

Yep. That’s it exactly. I just think that the balance is so good in the sec this year, especially in the west, that a 2 loss SEC champion will probably occur this year. Now if we could beat you guys twice then its very possible we could lose only 1 game in what looks like a minefield of a schedule to me. The regular season florida game in my mind is a tossup but amongst the rest of our games someone will upset us. But like I said that’s quite a task to beat UF twice in one season.

07 where LSU won it with 2 losses is a once in 40-50 year occurrence. There will be at least one other bcs team like OU-Texas that goes one loss or less and same with Ohio State so my thinking is that a 2 loss sec team will get left out. I just don’t see a big 12 or big 10 winner likewise having more than 1 loss. And then there is Boise of course which might go unbeaten- a 2-3 game season for them with VT and Oregon State and Fresno St. to a much lesser extent.

DP

August 20th, 2010
1:30 pm

dawgfan, the reason I couldn’t believe a Georgia fan would disparage Ohio State’s program as irrelevant is because if you asked 100 college fans without a connection to either school who had the better football program between Ohio State and Georgia, Georgia wouldn’t get a vote. In the last decade they have won a BCS championship game and played in 2 others, last year they went 13-1 and finished 2nd in the final poll and a Georgia fan disparages them? The best 10 year period in Georgia football history doesn’t match up to Ohio State’s last 10 years. And the long-term football history of the 2 schools is a complete mismatch.

Pago Pago Dawg

August 20th, 2010
1:33 pm

We’re very afraid that UF will just re-load and Ohio State has a very, very good qb.

G8TR

August 20th, 2010
1:33 pm

Difference between Richt and Myer in QB coaching? Urban’s last two both won NCs (Leak + Tebow). Richt, um, not so much. Trying winning the SEC East before pretending to sniff anywhere near the Top 5.

Delbert D.

August 20th, 2010
1:33 pm

I need those account numbers of those who like to say, “Take it to the bank.” I’m an IRS special agent, and I need a career-making case. Then I’ll retire and move to Vegas.

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
1:34 pm

Delbert D.,

I’ve become a little more sensitive to the mental illness issue especially since my best friend’s son has mild autism. But I haven’t become so sensitive that I don’t die laughing when I hear Matt Dillon say “yeah, I just love those retards” when talking to Cameron Diaz about special needs kids in “There’s something about Mary”. I would think most people would laugh about Dillon playing an idiot and saying something so dumb then they would laugh about special needs kids.

Delbert D.

August 20th, 2010
1:34 pm

Whoa, I sound delusional in that fantasy.

SEC FAN

August 20th, 2010
1:37 pm

I don’t know if Alabama can handle being #1 ,but Saban can. But, that’s the difference between a big time coach and the wannabe’s. Pick your favorite one.

Delbert D.

August 20th, 2010
1:37 pm

Tide – Yeah, it’s part of the human condition. You take moments of laughter when you can find them.

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
1:38 pm

DP,

Well said. I don’t want to put down the UGA tradition but Ohio State is a very elite program and even if they have lost badly in 2 bcs title games against sec teams LSU and UF they have been very elite under Tressel. 3 bcs game appearances in 9 years is amazing.

Gatorzone

August 20th, 2010
1:39 pm

gdawginkalamazoo
Good call on Pryor. I agree completely.

Cracker Jacket

August 20th, 2010
1:43 pm

Speaking of linebackers, how about “Hacksaw” in the Steelers glory days!

Yellow Fuzz

August 20th, 2010
1:45 pm

Alabama can. georgia can not

Cracker Jacket

August 20th, 2010
1:47 pm

DP – very spot on @1:30.

crackbaby

August 20th, 2010
1:48 pm

Bucky @ 8:35 am said:
UGA will not lose in 2010 & 2011.

Bucky also said he was only going to try meth once….

BAMA alum

August 20th, 2010
1:53 pm

LMAO at some of the posts from you Georgia “dawg” fans. Seriously hysterical.

Delbert D.

August 20th, 2010
1:54 pm

Cracker Jacket – You’re thinking of Jack Lambert. Jack “Hacksaw” Reynolds played with the Rams.

Saban

August 20th, 2010
1:54 pm

urban,better get your heart checked. the beatdown is a coming. who is your crybaby beatch this year?

ugaclassof2004

August 20th, 2010
1:58 pm

Here is my prediction for the SEC in 2010

SEC EAST
FLA 10-2
UGA 8-4
USC 8-4
KENT 6-6
UT 5-7
VAN 2-10

SEC WEST
BAMA 10-2
AUB 9-3
ARK 9-3
LSU 8-4
MSU 7-5
MISS 7-5

SEC CHAMPIONSHIP: Bama beats Gators

BAMA alum

August 20th, 2010
1:58 pm

AUBURN T: See you in November!

ugaclassof2004

August 20th, 2010
2:00 pm

Bama finishes 11-3 or 12-2 overall, but the 2 losses keep them out of the National Title Game.