Nov 9, 2013; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban in front of his team as they prepare to take the field against the LSU Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

14 Till 14: Why The Alabama Crimson Tide Will Finish Ranked No. 1

The Alabama Crimson Tide has a steep hill, nay, a mountain to climb to win it all this season.

A tough schedule (oh hey, A&M), the SEC Championship and then of course, the playoff. FSU, Michigan State and Oregon all have a pretty good shot of being represented at the end of the season. Still, Alabama continues to strive for excellence, and that is why I’m picking Alabama to win it all this season.

When Tiger Woods was in his prime, ESPN would ask, “Tiger Woods or the field?” That’s how I feel right now about Alabama. I would honestly pick the field, but I could also make the case for Alabama over any of those teams, which is what I’m going to do.

Florida State is making the playoff; that’s almost automatic. Playing in a weak ACC conference, while stocked with a Heisman winner and top recruiting classes, it would be a monumental upset for them not to make the postseason round.

When it comes to winning games at Alabama, a good defense and a power running game will get the job done.
Oregon, usually more hype than accomplishments, may have the next Heisman winner in Marcus Mariota. This could be the year the Ducks run the table and get over a pesky Stanford.

Michigan State, with Ohio State almost out of the picture, has a pretty good chance of making it into the playoff. Their offense is still questionable, they would probably be the least favored team to win.

Of course you have other wild cards such as Oklahoma, or even a second SEC team. But that’s not my point; there’s no dominating favorite this season. So let’s take a look at why Alabama has  a shot.

When Blake Sims was named starter Friday morning, I was a bit disgruntled. Personally, I have my doubts. The last time I saw him throw a pass was A-Day, and I had to get another eye surgery after seeing all the horrendous passing.

According to camp reports, he’s improved. The locker room loves him, he’s a four year vet, knows the playbook, and apparently has stepped up in the leadership role. I fully support whomever the quarterback is, but to me it’s not that huge of a deal. The starting quarterback will not be the deciding factor for Alabama raising another banner.

The Crimson Tide have gone undefeated in the regular season with John Parker Wilson at quarterback. Greg McElroy won a championship here as well. AJ McCarron won two titles here, and owns numerous school passing records. With no offense at all to them, they’re not the QBs you would expect to lead a team to so much success. They’re not a Cam Newton, Jameis Winston, Mariota, etc. My point? Why should this season be any different?

When it comes to winning games at Alabama, a good defense and a power running game will get the job done. The defense may be lacking in big names (outside of Landon Collins) but talent wise, they may be near the top. By the end of the season, the country will know who A’Shawn Robinson is. The opposing offenses will fear Reuben Foster coming full speed at them. Denzel Devall is ready to have a breakout season. When the young cornerbacks are ready, it’s going to be a no-fly zone between Tony Brown and Eddie Jackson.

I’m banking on Saban and the coaching staff to have these guys ready to go. If barely beating an Alabama team with complacency issues is difficult, imagine a pissed off Tide squad.

That’s what I’m hoping for tomorrow against West Virginia. With the strongest run game in the country, an offensive line that should improve, the most talented group of wide outs and tight ends ever seen in Tuscaloosa, and a defense hungry to erase any question marks, I’m picking Alabama this season.

If by the end of the season the Tide goes undefeated, that’s a feat in itself. It means getting past Florida’s stout defense, A&M’s explosive offense, defeating LSU in Death Valley, and getting revenge against Auburn. At that point, it’s hard not to name the Tide the favorites.

Take this season in. This isn’t the usual Alabama machine on the roll again. This team can be something special if it all goes right. It’s hard to say at No. 2 that Alabama is flying under the radar, but maybe that’s because there’s so many other question marks around the country.

To be able to see Bob Stoops have to give credit to the SEC, to see Auburn fall in Tuscaloosa again, to see FSU not be deemed the “SEC killers,” and of course to add to the dynasty that is Alabama football at this time, is reason to be excited for this season.

If I’m this excited, and you guys reading this are pumped up, imagine the players who had to go through an entire off season of work after last year.

The hunger is in Tuscaloosa again.

Tags: Alabama Crimson Tide Football

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