Although history might suggest otherwise, the Alabama Crimson Tide will win the national championship for an unprecedented third straight season.
At the risk of overstating the obvious, Nick Saban’s squad is on the verge of a truly historic feat. As my distinguished colleague Tim Letcher points out, the NCAA official website lists the Minnesota Golden Gophers as the last team to win three consecutive national championships, accomplishing this feat between 1934 and 1936 seasons. However, college football was a completely different game back then, as players played both ways before the initial implementation of the free substitution rule in 1941.
In other words, no one has ever pulled off a “three-peat” in the modern era.
So, what are the odds that the Tide can become the first team to win three undisputed national championships in a row?
Actually, they’re pretty good. After all, defense wins championships, and Alabama will once again have one of the nation’s best. The Crimson Tide returns seven starters from a unit that led the country in rushing defense, scoring defense and total defense last season. Considering that Saban is actively looking for ways to improve the D this year (is that possible?), it’s safe to assume it’ll be a top 10 unit in 2013.
Similarly, the offense is in great shape. Despite losing three starters up front, the Tide will have the best line in the conference with newcomer Ryan Kelly pushing for all-SEC honors at center. That will mean plenty of room to run for 1100-yard rusher TJ Yeldon, who will thrive as the feature back this season. Add in the feared combination of Heisman Trophy candidate AJ McCarron to Amari Cooper, and the Crimson Tide has one of the most explosive offenses in the land.
More importantly, the schedule sets up nicely for a big season. ‘Bama has an open week before facing the Texas A&M Aggies and LSU Tigers, giving it more time to prepare for its toughest two games of the season. Since the Tide will be heavy favorites in every other contest this year, only a loss in the SEC Championship Game would prevent them from playing for the title again this season.
With so much next-level talent and a relatively manageable schedule, it’s easy to see why so many people believe that Alabama will win an unprecedented third straight championship. Barring anything unexpected, the Crimson Tide will make history this season.