College Football 2013 Preview: Who Can End The Alabama Dynasty?
A highlight clip of Alabama's win the BCS Championship Game:
Three BCS national championships in the past four seasons.
And they are widely picked to three-peat, being a consensus number one pick in all of the preseason polls.
I believe that is an adequate description of a dynasty, which the football team at the University of Alabama is having right now.
It's a good thing that the Division One Football Bowl Subdivision of the NCAA is widely thought as being the most exciting regular season in all of sports, because normally in a situation where one team dominates over a number of years, people call that sport a joke since no one besides such team wins.
I suppose that some fans outside of Tuscaloosa, AL call major college football a joke because of the Crimson Tide's dominance, which included a 42-14 pasting of Notre Dame in the latest BCS title game.
However, after reading the various preseason publications and watching the pundits and prognosticators on sports channels like ESPN, I have determined that there are three teams that have the best chance to beat the Tide and end this dynasty that they have had since 2009.
Here is a list of those teams in descending order:
3. GEORGIA BULLDOGS
Preseason Rankings: 5th in the AP and USA Today polls
Everyone is touting South Carolina and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, their all-Universe beast, as a popular pick in the Southeastern Conference outside of Alabama, and the Gamecocks would be on this list of I increased it to five teams instead of three.
I still feel that Georgia has a more inside track; they will have a bigger chip on their shoulder due to the fact that they went toe-to-toe with the Crimson Tide in the 2012 SEC Championship game, falling short by a mere five yards.
With 16 starters back, including ten on offense, led by quarterback Aaron Murray (36 touchdown passes in 2012), these Bulldogs from Athens will be extra motivated, precisely because they were so close to dethroning Alabama.
Georgia's likely fate will be known very early, as they begin 2013 with a trip to Clemson followed by a showdown with Clowney and his Gamecocks. Their annual Cocktail Party with Florida, who many feel is a legitimate contender, will be a key as well.
2. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES
Preseason Rankings: 2nd in the AP and USA Today polls
These Buckeyes from Columbus achieved one thing that Alabama didn't last season: they won every one of their games while Texas A & M denied the Crimson Tide that distinction.
Only a bowl ban caused by NCAA sanctions kept Urban Meyer's team from facing the tide for the title this past January.
Super double-threat quarterback Braxton Miller leads a Buckeye team that could well go undefeated again, as while some of their opponents such as Wisconsin, Northwestern, and "That Team Up North" - better known as bitter rival Michigan - will be quite formidable and will put up a good fight, there's really no one on Ohio State's schedule that makes me think, "There's no way that they can win."
Besides, you can't ignore a team that went 12-0 with a coach who has stated that such team is not up to his standards yet.
1. STANFORD CARDINAL
Preseason Rankings: 4th in the AP and USA Today polls
I chose this Stanford program from Palo Alto, CA, located 30 miles south of San Francisco, as the team that has the best chance to end the Alabama dynasty for a few reasons:
* This Cardinal squad was every bit as good as the Crimson Tide at the end of 2012, scoring a HUGE upset over previously top-ranked Oregon on the road before going on to win the Pac-12 Conference and beating Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, their first triumph in that "Grandaddy Of Them All" in 41 years.
* After coach Jim Harbaugh changed Stanford's culture and turned them into a smash-mouth team, David Shaw took over and didn't miss a beat as he took the team to three straight BCS bowl games; the Cardinal's smash-mouth style mirrors the Crimson Tide's, and I am convinced that if a playoff was in place in 2012, it would have been Stanford facing Alabama in the title game.
* To elaborate on the Cardinal's smash-mouth style, their defense, led by linebacker Shayne Skov, personifies that, giving up an average of 97 rushing yards a game and led the nation with four sacks per contest last year.
* Their biggest showdown, by far, is once again against Oregon, only this time it will be at home on "The Farm" rather than at Autzen Stadium, the Ducks' home with the reputation of being the toughest place to play on the west coast - which Stanford completely overcame in their epic 17-14 overtime victory.
The bottom line is, Stanford is the team that is best constructed to beat Alabama, because the cardinal is a team that best mirrors the Tide.
Whether or not I will be proved right - or even come close - remains to be seen as the seal opens on this college football season.
Here's a video clip of the Cardinal at last year's Rose Bowl: