10 teams that could win it all in ’13: Alabama

AP Photo/Alabama Media Group, Vasha Hunt
AP Photo/Alabama Media Group, Vasha Hunt

Between now and the start of college football season, I’ll present you with 10 college football teams that have a realistic chance to win the national title this season. Today, the series begins with the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Alabama Crimson Tide
2012 record: 13-1
Defending SEC and national champions
See Alabama’s 2013 schedule

Why they could win it all (again): C’mon, it’s Alabama. They’ve won three of the last four national championships, and they return quarterback A.J. McCarron. He threw for 30 touchdowns and nearly 3,000 yards a year ago.

They’ll also be loaded with young talent, as they are every year. There’s little doubt they’ll be the most talented roster in the nation. Alabama has athletes all over the field, whether it’s receiver Amari Cooper (1,000 receiving yards in 2012) or the nation’s best defense of 2012, which, according to Kirby Smart, wasn’t as good as it could be.

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Complacency won’t be a problem, either — head coach Nick Saban will make sure of that. If there’s anyone who enjoys celebrating a championship as little as possible, it’s Saban. He’s more interested in keeping his team focused 365 days a year, and if I played for him, I’d be too scared to lose focus. He just doesn’t allow that to happen.

Alabama’s schedule is fairly soft once they get past the first few weeks. They begin in Atlanta against a Virginia Tech team that probably won’t be as strong as usual, and then they’ll play at Texas A&M against an Aggies team that might not even have its Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback by the time the two teams face off.

You’d be hard-pressed to find two more teams on their schedule the rest of the way that will be nationally-ranked until the Crimson Tide play in the SEC title game (assuming they get there). There’s the Nov. 9 game against LSU in Tuscaloosa, but that’s about it.

Why they might not win it all: C’mon, it’s the SEC. There are plenty of decent teams that could dethrone them along the way, and even a few great ones.

The offensive line will have to step up after losing three of its five 2012 starters to the NFL Draft. McCarron has to be good for the Tide to succeed again, so if the line can’t stave off those speedy SEC defenses and McCarron gets beaten up, ‘Bama could be in trouble.

Additionally, the Crimson Tide has never won a national title in a year when they were the top-ranked team in the USA Today Preseason Poll. Sure, it’s just a stat, but Alabama would have to do something it has never done before, in that regard.

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