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

Delbert D.

August 20th, 2010
2:01 pm

Ohio St. doesn’t exactly have a creampuff schedule. Start with Navy and the triple option. Last year a 2-point conversion attempt by Navy in the final minute to tie was intercepted and returned for OSU for a 21-17 win.

ATL Tide Fan

August 20th, 2010
2:05 pm

For all the dawgs that like to point out that Bama is rebuilding. In 2007, when Bama was truly rebuilding and went 4-4 (SEC), UGA finished #5 and went 6-2. Yet, it took y’all 3 OT’s to beat a rebuilding Bama that year. Then there was 2008, when Bama was “rebuilding” again. Refresh my memory about what happened in Athens that year. I recall it had something to do with wearing black…

PapaDawg

August 20th, 2010
2:06 pm

I believe Bama showed alot of chinks in its armor against the fresman QB in the Championship game and their QB is average at best. 2 losses this year, at least

Cracker Jacket

August 20th, 2010
2:07 pm

Delbert – thanks. I actualy remembered that after I hit submit and couldn’t find the recall button. Another good one was Dave Wilcox for the 49ers. Who was on the other side of Lambert?

Stirringitup

August 20th, 2010
2:11 pm

What gimmicks does Richt plan on pulling this year? Any new ones? Gonna try the “Blackout” again? Soulja Boy?

How2fish

August 20th, 2010
2:12 pm

ATL Tide Fan there is no one that we want a rematch with more than the Tide…who do you morons think you are UF they can run their mouths they have won that right on the field…we are 1-1 vs the Tide in the last 2 meetings and get real sick of your boasting..you won the NC last year and Congrats but don’t think we regard you as the bully on the block..you had a great 1st half in 08 we just ran out of time..if we get to the ATL and you guys are there to we won’t this time….

How2fish

August 20th, 2010
2:13 pm

Cracker Jacket I think it was Jack Ham next to Lambert.

How2fish

August 20th, 2010
2:15 pm

Stirringitup nope we ended last year with the Bug Bash..that will be this years theme.

ATL Tide Fan

August 20th, 2010
2:17 pm

Stirringitup, I think their gimmick will be red panties this year.

Delbert D.

August 20th, 2010
2:21 pm

McElroy was 4th in the SEC in Passer Rating last year.

Tebow – 164.17
Mallett – 152.46
Todd – 154.73
McElroy – 140.55
Jefferson – 137.18
Cox – 136.33
Snead – 124.81
Garcia – 119.33

No other SEC QBs in the top 100.

How2fish

August 20th, 2010
2:22 pm

ATL Tide Fan I hear it will be “gray shirts ” for you guys this year..

RxDawg

August 20th, 2010
2:23 pm

Ah, so here is the real football talk.

So, I had a dream a few weeks ago. Georgia made it to the SEC championship game. It was against Bama. Only, this Georgia team wasn’t thought of the same as they are right now. By this point, the Dawgs had some swagger and it was a big time game because nobody really knew who would win. But here is the kicker. The Dawgs surprised and came out in black for the SEC champ game. They had a score to settle with Bama in regards to those black jersies.

Lol, I don’t know who won though. I got so excited I woke up! Just 2 more weeks everyone.

TONY B ROCKS

August 20th, 2010
2:25 pm

Paul in RDU

August 20th, 2010
2:26 pm

DP
I have to disagree with your comment that if you asked 100 fans with no ties to either school who has the better program – UGA or OSU – all of them would say OSU.
If you asked any Michigan fans they might pick UGA.

ADL

August 20th, 2010
2:26 pm

Florida and Alabama both have off years. Both still better than UGA.

Delbert D.

August 20th, 2010
2:26 pm

How2fish – Jack Ham was the guy.

Urban & Nick & Les

August 20th, 2010
2:27 pm

Hey Steve , please dont turn up the heat in Columbia on Mark…his seat is already warm enough. BTW Mark , when are you gonna win the big one so you and UGA wont ride on our coattails?

ATL Tide Fan

August 20th, 2010
2:27 pm

RxDawg,

Like your dream. I would LOVE to see a Bama-UGA SEC champ game. Esp. since we’ll have already seen how we do with FL this year. Hope y’all make it there to face us.

Will the season please start!

Delbert D.

August 20th, 2010
2:28 pm

RxDawg – Now that was funny.

gdawginkalamazoo

August 20th, 2010
2:28 pm

I don’t think we see any two loss teams in the title game this year. Unless both of those losses happen to be in triple overtime, then those count as wins at the end of regulation according to Coach Miles.

How2fish

August 20th, 2010
2:29 pm

Delbert D.yeppers there have never been a better pair of linebackers on the same team at one time and few equals..IMHO.

Justifiably So

August 20th, 2010
2:30 pm

Alabama should be #1 and Florida should be #2. They will play for the SEC Championship again this year, and the winner of that game will win the national championship. You may as well put them at 1 and 2. The SEC has won the last four national championships, and aren’t getting any weaker. The SEC may be seeing a wider gap in stellar teams, but that’s only because Alabama and Florida are widening the gap by becoming the two best coaching, recruiting, special teams play, NFL feeder schools, etc. etc. etc. in the country. Goalie Head stick to soccer.

jumbeauxtiger

August 20th, 2010
2:31 pm

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?”

I just got my Sporting News mag in and they predict the same records.

G8R,you asked earlier who I thought would win the rematch. I didn’t want to make a prediction because it’s so early and both teams have questions. And I don’t recall a year when so many teams have concerns going into the season.

I also agree with Tide Rising and Beast not to discount the Buckeyes. I think Tressel is a outstanding coach and it would not surprise me if they win it all this year.

gdawginkalamazoo

August 20th, 2010
2:33 pm

RxDdawg, do you take Ambien? That was funny.

Definitely my “seasonal anxiety disorder” is starting to kick up a notch and in two weeks will be in full bloom. Stays that way until that first loss then it starts to fade. Pretty much gone after Kentucky or UT beats us. Last season was okay because we had that early loss so any expectations were gone. Except for the “will Willie keep his job after the season” expectation.

We are the company that we keep and our invitations

August 20th, 2010
2:37 pm

We are the company that we keep and we are also reflective of our invitations to great events and activities. These things make up we are.

With that in mind …………..GT has been to three major bowls in the last 50 years and I am counting the Citrus, although back in the day ( 1990 ) it was a secondary deal …….formerly the mighty Tangerine Bowl. Three majors and they did win one and the 90 NC along with two or three other schools, depending on what newspaper that you read.

All the GT bloggers ( kids ) act like GT is some historically great program. In a way they are. GT has been to three major bowls since about the mid 1950s and for a football team that did enjoy modest success in the 40s and 50s, that is pathetic.

“We are the company that we keep” and GT is not keeping company with any major bowls over 10-20 year spans like UGA is ( three Sugar Bowls in 9 years and 2- Cap One Bowls and 2- Outbacks)and when GT bailed out on the SEC, they began their ever continuing downward spiral.

SEC rules.

Gator Zone

August 20th, 2010
2:41 pm

I heard richt plans to paint his face black this year for the florida game to get the team extra-fired up, so maybe they can stay within 4 TDs! It’s a plan—may work!

kyle

August 20th, 2010
2:43 pm

I’m praying that Boise State crushes VT. Its different for me cuz i live an hour from VT and i’m sick of hearing about them.

Arlo

August 20th, 2010
2:46 pm

Looking forward to the BCS Championship game with Oklahoma versus Alabama.

Trizzle

August 20th, 2010
2:49 pm

Go Gators! I wish the best to all teams out there, but holding strong for my team! I am a little concerned about the strength, losing a lot of great players, but I have faith they will pull thru and make it a great year!

Reggie Ball

August 20th, 2010
2:49 pm

The only two teams here that will end the season in the top 5 are Bama and OSU.

Is that an end line I just crossed?

Reggie Ball

August 20th, 2010
2:52 pm

Kyle, you sound like a hater.

Or someone who likes ascots and pulls for UVA. Do you have any good brie recommendations?

Lane Kiffin

August 20th, 2010
2:54 pm

Hey Guys — Still love me? Hope so. FYI, I’m open to any coaching vacancies, what with USC being in jail for the next few. Maybe I can go to “The Other” USC next year? Love ya’

south eastern chumps

August 20th, 2010
2:54 pm

NESBITT FOR HEISMAN, handle that sec goobers

BJohnDawg

August 20th, 2010
2:59 pm

Funny,,,,media says ” oh no, Georgia has questions on defense. they should be ranked 64.
Bama has questions on defense with only 2 starters returning, “They are going to win the MNC.”
And Florida has all kinds of questions ” Lets put them at #4.”

Delbert D.

August 20th, 2010
3:02 pm

What are these “SEC rules” I keep reading on the blogs? Is it the officiating that is set up to promote the BCS Championship Game? The Big Ten used to play only 9 games and allowed participation only in the Rose Bowl, and then not 2 years in a row. Then Michigan went to the Orange bowl in 1975. Notre Dame had a rule that they couldn’t even go to a bowl game until the 1969 season.

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
3:04 pm

13 days till South Carolina kicks it off on a Thursday night and 15 days until the first Saturday. AMEN!

AltamahaDawg

August 20th, 2010
3:14 pm

Some the “SEC rules” had to rewritten this year. I understand that they modified the celebration rule. No longer needed the “unless your name is Tebow” exemption.

G8R GRAD

August 20th, 2010
3:21 pm

BJohnDawg:

Life’s just not fair, huh?

Times R Changin'

August 20th, 2010
3:22 pm

There will be a picture of a guy in a white and gold jersey with a piece of hedge in his mouth on the front page of the AJC on November 27th to remind everyone what happened last time in Athens. Then on Sunday, the 28th, another one, just like the other one!

G8R GRAD

August 20th, 2010
3:23 pm

Jumbeaux:

Should be an interesting year.
Good Lord, let’s suit up already!

AltamahaDawg

August 20th, 2010
3:26 pm

I heard Richt was going to walk out dressed as a giant purple pill.

AltamahaDawg

August 20th, 2010
3:30 pm

Tech winning twice in one decade would be front page news to be sure.

G8R GRAD

August 20th, 2010
3:32 pm

Hey, North Avenue Trade Schoolers:

Who wins a hypothetical game between the Jackets and ‘Noles?

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
3:37 pm

AltamahaDawg,

The biggest rule change was the celebration penalty being changed from being assessed after the play to being assessed for that play. So if the Terrance Cody taking off his helmet after the UT block penalty had been called last year it would have been a mute point since Bama would have been given the ball and assessed 15 yards after the play. If that same play happened this year of course they would penalize Bama 15 yards, UT would retain possession of the ball and be able to rekick for the win.

The biggest impact will be if a player is highstepping or celebrating in some way as he nears the goal line. If the flag is thrown then rather than be assessed on the extra point or kickoff the td would be called back. This is a bad decision and is going to result in another controversial celebration call similar to the AJ Green penalty or the Jake Locker penalty.

The SEC overreacted to the criticism that Bama won the game vs UT and people were mad that UT didn’t get a rekick because Cody pulled his helmet off before the play was over. All they did was open up a can of worms. Things were fine the way they were and in the future we are sure to see a poor call affect a highly emotional game because some running back started celebrating right before breaking the goal line.

MJ

August 20th, 2010
3:44 pm

Bucky – If you are trying to say that Mark Richt is a better coach than Nick Saban, I highly question your judgement. How many National/SEC championships does Nick Saban have vs. Mark Richt? 2-0 and 3-2 respectively. I concede that Mark Richt has a better bowl record than Nick Saban. Both coaches have done an excellent job at their schools. However, at the end of the day, if I had my choice of Mark Richt or Nick Saban to coach my team, I would choose Saban without hesitation! Oh and by the way, I’m NOT an Alabama fan!

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
3:46 pm

G8R GRAD,

The mailman gets here at my house around 5ish. I’m so psyched about the start of the season that when I see him I may just stiffarm him at the mailbox or tackle him Donta Hightower style.

How2fish

August 20th, 2010
3:50 pm

MJ I understand your points however I’d go with CMR and the reason as while I respect the job Saban had done during his career I have issues with how he has done it a few times…its a matter of character to me that trumps the number of NC’s but again that is just me..he is a hell of a coach.

Fred

August 20th, 2010
3:50 pm

Tide Rising: I know I’m a tad late, but I disagree wholeheartedly with your defense of the ButtEyes (lol I just can’t resist that one, I know it’s juvenile).

Yes, Ohio State has a long winning tradition as does the Big 10 in general. However, that pretty much ended when the ’90’s did. There is no longer any parity between the Big 10 (or Little 11 as I am wont to call them) and the SEC.

Yes, Tressel beat Miami. It was an awesome win. I was a lone voice in the dark predicting that win. LOL I won a lot of money off it. how ever, since then the Big 10 has gotten really weak. I feel confident that Boise State or Utah could win that conference were they in it.

When you play weak teams week in and weak out, it doesn’t take the toll on your players that it does when you are playing barely house trained monsters every game. The SEC fields 12 teams of monsters on the offensive and defensive lines. There is no matching speed if you don’t have speed. You can’t coach against it. There was no “magic” to Alabama last year. They had a decent QG, some decent recievers, an awesome running back, and then a squad of monsters that just physically beat the hell out of the opponents until they whooped them into submission. they had the speed in the secondary to keep up with the opponents receivers. Saban didn’t run any fancy offense. He didn’t have to. In a conference noted for speed and strength, he had “the mostest.” It was a beautiful thing to see.

Now the Big 10 gets those corn fed mid west boys and they are no powder puffs, but they don’t get the SPEED. Our (SEC) 7′19″ 983 lb linemen are only slightly slower than their QB’s and backs (ours too for that matter). You can’t coach against that, you have to PLAY against that. SEC QB’s and backs know that they can’t dally around stutter stepping and back tracking waiting for a hole. Unless they want to get crushed, they gotta GO. And they do. it’s a different brand of ball.

I keep hoping the Big 10 will get back into form, but so far I haven’t seen any indication of it. The only way I see to keep the Nat’l Champion from not being an SEC team is to not have the SEC Champion in the Nat’l Championship game.

Realistic Dawg Fan

August 20th, 2010
3:53 pm

Bama is clearly the team to beat and we’ll get a preview of how good they’re going to be against Penn State. However they do play Florida, Auburn and LSU and could lose to any of them if they don’t bring their A game.

Boise State would be 8 and 4 if they played in the SEC

Ohio State won’t even win the big ten

Texas will not be as good as last year…..

Florida will be good…. but not like the last two years. They will lose two…. Alabama and either Fla St or UGA

UGA will be better but go 10 and 2 with close loses to Auburn and Florida or South Carolina. The Florida game will be real close either way and they will not lose to the bugs in Athens.

G8R GRAD

August 20th, 2010
3:57 pm

Tide:

Isn’t that a Federal offense?