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NCAA Football Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama Crimson Tide Looking for Redemption in 2014

John David Mercer, USA TODAY SPORTS

John David Mercer, USA TODAY SPORTS

The Alabama Crimson Tide have made winning a habit over the last decade. Alabama has claimed three national championships under current head coach Nick Saban, and if they’re not winning the title, it seems that they are always in the mix.

So imagine the disappointment last year when the top-ranked Tide fell to their arch rivals, the Auburn Tigers, in the Iron Bowl on a 109-yard return of a missed field goal. Alabama’s season totally changed at that moment. Gone was the SEC Western Division title. Gone was the bid in the SEC Championship Game. Gone was any chance of playing for a national championship.

Instead, Alabama had to settle for what Saban has called a “consolation game” matchup with the Oklahoma Sooners in the Sugar Bowl. Saban has said that it was tough to get his team motivated for that game, and that might be the reason for the 45-31 loss that the Sooners hung on the Tide on that night.

But looking at the bigger picture, imagine a team that has won so many games over the last decade losing two in a row to end a season. One can imagine that those losses served as motivation for the Tide for this season.

It’s clear that this will be a new beginning for the Tide. Quarterback A.J. McCarron is now gone, as are several members of the Tide’s always-tough defense. For most teams, this would be a transition season, when 3-4 losses would be the norm. But this is Alabama. Even with an inexperienced quarterback and questions on defense, this team is expected to contend for national championships.

On offense, both running back T.J. Yeldon and wide receiver Amari Cooper return. Those players, along with safety Landon Collins on defense, should provide the leadership to carry the Tide into another era of winning.

Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.