You’ve broken me, Alabama.
That’s what happens when you win three titles in four years, there’s no sense fighting it anymore.
Alabama – national champions in 2009, ’11 and ’12 – is the best team until proven otherwise. The coaches already voted the Crimson Tide as the preseason No. 1 and the AP has followed suit.
This is my ninth year as an AP top 25 voter and this is the first time that I’ve voted for the preseason No. 1. There’s being different to be different and then there’s being willfully wrong.
It should be noted, the preseason No. 1 in the AP poll has not won the national title in my nine years, so myopia does love company.
In this four-year window of dominance, the only time that Nick Saban’s group did not win the national title was 2010. That’s also the only other season the Tide was the preseason No. 1.
As for the rest of the picks, I haven’t completely come back to the normalcy curve. I’m hotter on Baylor, Miami, North Carolina, Vanderbilt and Northern Illinois than most but cooler on Ohio State.
Football starts in 11 days, enjoy the season!
1. Alabama (13-1 record in 2012): Home losses in each of the past two seasons have not derailed the Tide, which has been as lucky as it has been good in consecutive title years.
It will take a break the other way to knock Alabama off the throne.
2. Georgia (12-2): Tarboro’s Todd Gurley, who ran for 1,385 yards as a freshman, is one of 10 returning starters on Georgia’s offense, which led the country in yards per play (7.09) last season.
3. South Carolina (11-2): Jadeveon Clowney. Jadeveon Clowney. Jadeveon Clowney. There’s more to the Gamecocks than the dominant defensive end but the probable No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft gets all the attention.
4. Stanford (12-2): Run the ball, stop the run, plain white uniforms. The Cardinal is older than old school but you can’t argue with the results (23-4 under David Shaw), even without Jim Harbaugh and/or Andrew Luck.
5. Oregon (12-1): Chip Kelly fled for the NFL but he left Alabama’s second-favorite team chock full of speed (see: Thomas, De’Anthony) and talent.
6. Clemson (11-2): Give Clemson Florida State’s schedule and the Tigers would be in Pasadena on Jan. 6 for the BCS title game. With both Georgia and South Carolina as nonconference opponents, the Tigers will have to settle for a second conference title in three years as the consolation prize.
7. Ohio State (12-0): If the Buckeyes win all of the games on their weak schedule (again), does that really make them one of the two best teams in the country?
8. Texas A&M (11-2): Is the NCAA going to let Johnny Manziel play? The NCAA let Cam Newton play in 2010 so who knows? Even without Manziel, if the Aggies drop games to Alabama and LSU, they would still finish 10-2 and safely in the top 10.
9. Louisville (11-2): What’s the difference between the Cardinals and Ohio State? Perception. Unfortunately for QB Teddy Bridgewater and the future ACC member, perception is reality in college football.
10. Florida State (12-2): When Jimbo Fisher figures out how to eliminate the hiccups, the Seminoles will challenge for the national title. Until then, they are just preseason paper champs.
11. Florida (11-2): The Gators had a legitimate argument for a spot in the BCS title game instead of Notre Dame. After a no-show effort against Louisville in the Sugar Bowl, public opinion of the Gators is low but their upside is still high.
12. Notre Dame (12-1): You’re only as good as your last game? Brian Kelly and the Irish’s defense will have to spend the season trying prove that adage wrong.
13. Oklahoma State (8-5): The SEC is the best conference but the Big 12 has the toughest conference schedule. The edge in the Big 12 race goes to Mike Gundy’s high-scoring group because they get TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma at home.
14. LSU (10-3): The Tigers have to reload but they have the advantage of doing so under the radar. Little is expected of the Tigers, who have won 34 games in the past three seasons.
15. Baylor (8-5): The best mind in college football plies his trade in Waco, Texas, where Art Briles has turned the previously woebegone Bears into an offensive juggernaut.
16. Michigan (8-5): The Wolverines are 14-0 at home under coach Brady Hoke, which is good because Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State all visit El Casa Grande this season.
17. Texas (9-4): Texas is 22-16 since the BCS title game loss to Alabama in the 2009. Even worse for Mack Brown, the Longhorns are looking up at Texas A&M.
18. Nebraska (10-4): Senior QB Taylor Martinez (33 total TDs) has the offense rolling but the Cornhuskers gave up 115 points in their final two games of 2012.
19. Oklahoma (10-3): You get the feeling the elite window has closed on Bob Stoops’ program but that doesn’t mean the Sooners can’t be consistently respectable.
20. Miami (7-5): Al Golden has kept the program together with duct tape and super glue. Assuming the NCAA doesn’t slam the door on them, the Hurricanes are in shape for their first ACC division title.
21. UCLA (9-5): Sophomore Brett Hundley (3,740 yards, 29 TDs) might be the best quarterback in the Pac-12; he’s certainly the least heralded.
22. Boise State (11-2): Two losses in 2012 constitutes a “down” season for the Broncos, who are 84-8 in seven seasons under Chris Petersen.
23. UNC (8-4): Mack Brown’s past two UNC teams (in 1996 and ’97) finished the season with double-digit wins. Larry Fedora’s second team has a chance to get back to that level.
24. Vanderbilt (9-4): West Virginia and Louisville both went on to double-digit win seasons and BCS bowls after facing N.C. State in bowl games. Vandy beat State in the Music City Bowl last December.
25. Northern Illinois (12-2): Huskies QB Jordan Lynch threw for more yards (3,138) than Braxton Miller and ran for more yards (1,815) than Johnny Manziel last season. Plus, Dave Doeren’s former team returns all five starters on the offensive line.