Champions of The Round Table

Greg McElroy and Nick Saban
The One Great Season College Football Countdown ends Friday. We've been counting down the preseason Top 25 teams in 2010. Today's No. 1 is Alabama.

Only a few programs can take heavy personnel hits and still be a near-unanimous pick to play for another national championship, and with a retooled defense, Alabama will show why it's one of those teams in 2010.

The Crimson Tide are the easy No. 1 pick in the OGS Preseason Countdown.

What will make Alabama's defense so special this year? How about a great offense, for starters? Yep, it's true, Nick Saban will win with offense this year. It's been a while since that was the trend in Tuscaloosa.

Greg McElroy is ready to go from a serviceable quarterback to a potentially dangerous one. Because of the talent around him, he can win once again by just managing a clean game, but if there's a need for him to be prolific, McElroy can get it done.

Heisman Trophy-winning running back Mark Ingram is back for his junior season, and he and sophomore sensation Trent Richardson will be the nation's top one-two punch.

Julio Jones, the highly touted wideout coming out of high school, looks to get over the hump and establish himself among the nation's finest. The emergence of fellow junior Marquis Maze, a significant threat as well, could help Jones accomplish that.

Tackle James Carpenter leads a potentially young line that may need a minute to get its legs. Three redshirt freshmen and three more sophomores could be among the two-deep roster on Sept. 4.

Defensively, the Tide must replace loads of talent and leadership. There are fewer star players this year, but don't go feeling sorry for Kirby Smart just yet.

There's one stud leading each unit, and that starts with 300-pound end Marcel Dareus up front. He came on in the second half of last season and even scored a huge touchdown in Alabama's national championship win over Texas. He'll contend for national honors, as will linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who returns after blowing out his knee last year.

Hightower is athletic enough to play any of the linebacker positions, but his leadership might keep him in the middle, where coach-on-the-field Rolando McClain left an All-American-sized hole when he bolted early for the NFL Draft.

Javier Arenas, Kareem Jackson, Justin Woodall and Marquis Johnson all depart from an outstanding secondary. But All-American candidate Mark Barron returns and will get those younger defensive backs in line.

Alabama will handle Penn State in Week 2, and gets Florida at home in October. But the Tide must visit Arkansas and LSU; even a trip to Tennessee could be tricky. Alabama has arguably the best coach in the sport, as well as loads of talent and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Tide roll through its 12-game schedule, but in the SEC, anything can happen.

Who's back? QB Greg McElroy, RB Mark Ingram, RB Trent Richardson, WR Julio Jones, LT James Carpenter, S Mark Barron, LB Dont'a Hightower, DE Marcel Dareus

Who's gone? DT Terrence Cody, LB Rolando McClain, CB Javier Arenas, CB Kareem Jackson, K Leigh Tiffin

Why they'll win: Alabama will have a dominant offense and at some point during the season, the defense will catch up.

Why they'll lose: Personnel transitions on the offensive line and in the defensive secondary could be interesting.

Get your tickets: vs. Penn State (Sept. 11), at Arkansas (Sept. 25), vs. Florida (Oct. 10), at LSU (Nov. 6), vs. Auburn (Nov. 26)

Prediction: 12-0 (8-0, SEC West champs)


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    By: John P. Wise

    From: Bleacher Report

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