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

V Town Dilly

August 20th, 2010
9:17 pm

Kind of agree that Meyer & Saban are different in how they run to another team every few years, and don’t have loyalty to university, coaches, players, etc. Not sure why, maybe they like to be able to blame problems on former coaches recruits, or syphon off of former coaches recruits, or burnout or lose their passion? it’s bizarre. Maybe they just arn’t relational & loyal. Maybe they just value money above all else.

Dback22

August 20th, 2010
9:31 pm

John Wooden was the best mentally tough coach. He didn’t scream or berate like Saban & Meyer, didn’t need to yell at players to earn their respect. He didn’t run around to new schools every 3 or 4 years. People person & dedicated to 1 school for a long time, UCLA. He sustained success, at a high level. Mark Richt reminds me of John Wooden in a lot of ways.

Delbert D.

August 20th, 2010
9:40 pm

Now you’ve gone and scared Coach Fox.

Paul in RDU

August 20th, 2010
9:53 pm

Dback22 – I like CMR as a person and as a coach, but CMR has a looooooong way to go to be compared to Wooden.

Fred

August 20th, 2010
10:04 pm

Dear Dback22,

Might I respectfully say that I can’t see a single similarity in John Wooden and Mark Richt? John Wooden actually WON National Championships. Mark Richt ain’t even been in the game.

Mark Richt is the highest paid Sunday School teacher in the world. That’s fine if he were hired to be a Sunday School teacher.

He wasn’t he was hired to be a FOOTBALL COACH. He has the most undisciplined teams in the Country and has found a way NOT to be in the Nat’l Championship game with a ton more of talent than those who have actually been there and WON the thing.

Back Door Man

August 20th, 2010
10:12 pm

17-3!
August 20th, 2010
9:53 am

Florida—another blowout win over georgia coming soon, making it 18-3 in the last 21 years—total dominance! Hard to be humble when you’re a Gator fan. Don’t worry dawgs–you will not have to go back to shreveport again this year, since the SEC dropped that lowly bowl game.

HeyA-wipe. UGA hasn’t been to Shreveport in years. Shut the hell up.

Shreveport Shorty

August 20th, 2010
10:20 pm

Uga hasn’t been to shreveport in years? check the record book moron–they were there last year! Dawg fans still talk about that motel 6 near the freeway and the coldest PBR in the south! you need to read more (if you can read!)

Delbert D.

August 20th, 2010
10:25 pm

“What did I say was the total amount?”

‘Twenty dollars.’

“You gave me only seventeen.”

‘I know.’

“What did I say was the total amount?”

‘Maybe it was seventeen?’

“No, idiot, the total was twenty.”

‘I don’t understand the difference.’

“Right. Get your backpack, and get off the back of the truck.”

Fred

August 20th, 2010
10:54 pm

Your point is?

Delbert D.

August 20th, 2010
11:11 pm

17 out of 20 isn’t “total.”

10:21 post reference

One dimensional dawgs

August 20th, 2010
11:58 pm

yeah alcohol is no problem in athens! you getting bolloxed tonight tony with panties man?

Arrests of UGA students on partying charges up sharplyShareThisPrint E-mail .By Kristi E. Swartz

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

It’s been two weeks since the University of Georgia was named the No. 1 party school in the nation by the Princeton Review. Apparently, authorities are paying attention.

More Atlanta area news »
More rain expected Saturday
In Inman Park not even graffiti is safe from graffiti
Search for drowning victim
Mom of girls taken from filth re-arrested
.Twenty University of Georgia students were arrested for alcohol-related charges Thursday night in Athens, including underage possession of alcohol and DUI, according to Athens-Clarke County jail records.

Those arrests – by university and Athens-Clarke County police – bring the total of drug-and alcohol-related arrests made in the last two weeks to 43, according to The Red and Black, the campus newspaper.

According to The Red and Black, arrests of UGA students on drug-and-alcohol charges were already running ahead of recent years. The paper said prior to Thursday night’s crackdown, there had been 23 drug-and-alcohol-related arrests since Aug. 9. There were 15 arrests during the same two-week period a year ago. In 2008, 13 arrests were made during that time period, The Red and Black said.

UGA and Athens-Clarke County police departments also are conducting checkpoints Friday night, the campus newspaper said. Classes began this week at the school of 33,000 students.

Attempts by the AJC to contact Athens-Clarke County police spokespersons were unsuccessful Friday night.

Florida Dawg

August 21st, 2010
12:05 am

Ohio State is always overrated……they play in a weak conference…get to the dance and, as anyone, can get lucky once every decade.

Dback22

August 21st, 2010
12:17 am

Actually, if you look at Mark Richt right now, he’s right on John Wooden’s career trajectory. Wooden didn’t win a National Championship until his 17th season as a head coach. The similarities I see between Mark Richt & John Wooden are endless like consistent excellence, winning, demeanor, not a screamer like a Saban or Meyer, don’t move around like gypsies Saban & Meyer to lots of schools, people persons, dedicated to one school for a long time, loyalty, etc.

One dimensional dawgs

August 21st, 2010
12:55 am

Don’t worry uf fans. The uga redneck losers know they will lose again this year. They just can’t understant why they get all these blue chip towers recruits and can’t win a nat champ. They keep making excuses and every year it’s the same ol song and dance. It was the same rhetoric last year before the ok state game. They sure did the sec proud then! Another 4-5 loss season for the mutts is in the cards. They are lucky they have a very soft ooc schedule this year.

Try again

August 21st, 2010
12:57 am

Mark Richt is dedicated to one school. The school where he won! FSU. And when give the chance in a few years to go back, he will. Uga is a stepping stone back to his home. Remember, the only rings he has that mean anything were won at FLORIDA STATE. Not at the university for drunken debauchery.

Try again

August 21st, 2010
1:00 am

And only a moron calls the big 10 a weak conference. Especially someone who roots for a team who hasn’t won a nat champ in 30 years. THIRTY YEARS. BEFORE DIFFERENT STROKES. BEFORE MAGNUM PI WHEN THREE”S COMPANY STARTED and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK was released. Just look how young Harrison Ford was. Oh and Pollack, Stafford, Moreno, David Green? Not even born yet dumb azzes.

Try again

August 21st, 2010
1:01 am

And ol buck belue is about to go into a senile retirement home. Man is he one old demented fool.

Mental Toughness

August 21st, 2010
7:00 am

*
————————————
Joshua Nesbitt for Heisman
————————————
*

G8TR

August 21st, 2010
7:11 am

Richt, dedicated? Sure, because UGA is fool enough to keep being satisfied w/ total mediocrity. Consider the way they tout his “road” record and leave out Jax losses. I’ve never seen a guy get a pass as much as this guy.(Maybe he had pictures of Damon.) But, please, keep him around as long as possible….

Bama fan

August 21st, 2010
7:24 am

G8TR,

Yeah, I noticed that too that they are always touting his “road” record and leaving out the fact that all the Jax losses are considered neutral site games and hence not “road” losses. What a crock.

reality

August 21st, 2010
7:28 am

Replace Boise State with the ACC Champs(Va Tech or GT). Otherwise Tony has it about right. UGA has no shot. They will startoff0-2 in the SEC.

Beast from the East

August 21st, 2010
7:36 am

Just think…..two short weeks from now we’ll be getting ready to actually WATCH some football instead of just talking about it.
Can’t wait!!!!!!!!!!!!

17 of 20

August 21st, 2010
7:42 am

G8TR
I agree with you 100% Georgia needs to keep their coach for a long time. I laughed out loud when someone compared him to Coach Wooden.

Gatorman

August 21st, 2010
8:59 am

The Gators and Crimson Tide, put it on your calendar and watch the game. I figure both teams will be undefeated for the season, except for this game. Alabama’s not afraid to be #1, as they fear their coach’s wrath more than the other team. The Gators are reloading for the big push, mark my words.

LHardingDawg

August 21st, 2010
9:08 am

Georgia Florida Series-

First Game – Nov 6, 1915 37-0 UGA
Number of Games 87
All Time Series 46-39-2 UGA
Largest Victory Nov 7, 1942 – 75-0 UGA

reality

August 21st, 2010
9:21 am

LHardingdawg….keep living in the past…that’s all you have…

Times are Changing

August 21st, 2010
9:40 am

Florida had as much if not more talent than Alabama last year and got pounded in the SEC Championship? They were dominated. The game wasn’t really even close. How did that happen?

With Tebow and Spikes Florida walked on the field with an aire of invincibility… Alabama burst that bubble. Now without markee players like Tebow Fla is gonna play a little less confidence and it will show.

bamaguy

August 21st, 2010
9:44 am

The Gators and the TIde can’t be undefeated going into the SEC final, they play each other in October. I agree that the likely pairing for the SEC championship game is Alabama and Florida for the third straight year, but no team will enter that game undefeated.

The x factor in all of college football is that we are predicting the behavior and play of boys, not men. The look like grown men, but they are not. That’s why Coach Saban spends so much energy on mental toughness and focusing on the process. It seems to work with the teenagers.

And yes, his players are a little intimidated by him, just like I was by my Father. They want his respect. Coach RIcht reminds me of one of these new age dads that want’s to be his son’s best friend.

Jim Dog

August 21st, 2010
11:06 am

I have to winder, if Saban’s so good at mental toughness, why he’s been so inconsistent in his career, only had 2 good top 10 finishes in a row once. He’s weak and hs teams are weak.

Uncle G's Fan

August 21st, 2010
11:09 am

Alabam and Florida both rebuilding. both go 8-4, or 9-3.

4 Pete's Sake

August 21st, 2010
11:11 am

phil Jackson and John Wooden have the mental toughness thing down, both do it Richt’s way, without screaming and threats and intimidation and bullying. That’s old school, and not sustainable, which is why both Urban Meyer & Saban can’t stay in 1 place long.

mizzouphil

August 21st, 2010
11:17 am

Go Mizzou….

LHardingDawg

August 21st, 2010
11:35 am

reality

You have “nothing” but a sad existence.

bamaguy

August 21st, 2010
11:40 am

When Mark RIcht wins two or three National Championships, get back to me on the mental toughness thing.

Nurse Ratchet

August 21st, 2010
11:54 am

It would be fun to be able to remember all these brags and gloats after about 6 or 8 weeks and then be able to remind a bunch of these fans about their comments.

Dback22

August 21st, 2010
1:17 pm

Richt’s winning % over 1st 9 seasons = .769
Wooden’s winning % over 1st 9 seasons = .700

# if National Championships for Richt in 1st 9 seasons = 0
# if National Championships for Wooden in 1st 9 seasons = 0

Richt’s actually ahead of Wooden so far.

bob

August 21st, 2010
2:05 pm

dOES ANYONE BELIEVE rICHT WILL FINISH AHEAD OF HIM?

BBR

August 21st, 2010
2:07 pm

I don’t care how many times UGA loses to Florida, I will continue to thank God that I was raised the right way. The Gators can have their cheesy, loud mouth, obnoxious fans to go right along with their a**hole coach. A match made in hell!

Dynamicbigboy

August 21st, 2010
2:55 pm

Damn Gatorbait, you need to calm down and get back on the meds. I guess we should just hand over the rank of “#1 DEFENSE IN THE WORLD” to the gayturds and be done with it. Secondly, VT is going to hand Boise “we never play anybody” State their rear ends.

TOUGHNESS

August 21st, 2010
3:27 pm

.
… Joshua Nesbitt for Heisman
.

Redneckville

August 21st, 2010
4:33 pm

Don’t worry dawgs—uga will lose 3-4 games again, get blown out by florida, again, but you can still play those old 1980-81 larry munson tapes loud in the parking lot before the game to make you feel GOOD!!!!! Yeah baby–buck and herschel—those were the days!!!!!

crabapplejoe

August 21st, 2010
6:48 pm

Boise State is much more athletic than VT with lots of returning starters….they beat VT badly….run the table on the rest of their schedule and play for a NC….which will totally pi@@ everyone off…LOL

TampaGator

August 21st, 2010
7:00 pm

BBR…..

That was a cheesy, loud-mouthed, and highly obnoxious post. You sure you aren’t a a** hole?

TampaGator

August 21st, 2010
7:06 pm

Times are Changing….

Having read a lot about the Gator camp this summer…..confidence is the one thing the Gators are NOT lacking in my friend. This is a very confident, focused, and ticked off football team. The Gators are going to come out steaming. I fully anticipate the Gators going into the Tide game more focused, in better condition, and with more weapons on offense than they had last year. And the defensive line is a lot, lot bigger and a lot, lot stronger than they were last year. And the LBs and DBs are a lot faster and athletic too. As long as Brantley stays healthy, the Gators will be just as good or better than they were last year. Believe me.

TommyGator

August 21st, 2010
8:02 pm

Goalie Head has taken WAY too many pucks…..

college football

August 21st, 2010
9:30 pm

Alabama will lose 3 games and if they played Boise State, they would get stomped.

Delusions of gradeur

August 21st, 2010
9:35 pm

Dback22

August 21st, 2010
1:17 pm
Richt’s winning % over 1st 9 seasons = .769
Wooden’s winning % over 1st 9 seasons = .700

# if National Championships for Richt in 1st 9 seasons = 0
# if National Championships for Wooden in 1st 9 seasons = 0

“Richt’s actually ahead of Wooden so far.”

Dback22,

This lunatic post of yours pretty much says it all as to why the bama and gator fans think you dawg fans are delusional if not downright crazy.

Delusions of grandeur

August 21st, 2010
9:36 pm

That’s delusions of grandeur, not gradeur- starting to spell like a redneck dawg fan

Delusions of grandeur

August 21st, 2010
9:37 pm

college football,

If you think Boise would stomp Bama then you know nothing of college football. zilch! nada! Zero!

Delbert D.

August 21st, 2010
10:30 pm

“Boise would stomp Bama” “Boise would stomp Bama” “Boise would stomp Bama”

Got to watch what you post, Del grand. These troll-boys will take it out of context :-)