Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron throws on the run in front of LSU Tigers cornerback Ron Brooks during their NCAA BCS National Championship college football game in New Orleans

CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 3 Alabama


2011 record: 12-1 overall, 7-1 in SEC (2nd in West)

2011 postseason: BcS title game (21-0 win over LSU)

2011 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 1/No. 1

Head coach: Nick Saban (146-56-1 overall; 55-12 in five seasons at Alabama)

Offensive coordinator: Doug Nussmeier (first season)

2011 offensive rankings: No. 16 rushing offense (214.5 ypg); 69th passing offense (215.1 ypg); 31st total offense (429.6 ypg); No. 20 scoring offense (34.8 ppg)

Returning offensive starters: seven

Defensive coordinator: Kirby Smart (sixth season at Alabama, fifth as DC)

2011 defensive rankings: No. 1 rushing defense (72.1 ypg); No. 1 passing defense (111.5 ypg); No. 1 total defense (183.6 ypg); No. 1 scoring defense (8.1 ppg)

Returning defensive starters: four

Location: Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Stadium: Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821; grass)

Last league title: 2009

Schedule: [view]

Roster: [view]

2011 statistics: [view]

The Good
Nick Saban’s a lot of things (insert various one-liners at your leisure), but he’s not someone who allows himself, his coaching staff or his players to make the same mistake again.  Coming off its BcS title following the 2009 regular season, the Tide consistently stubbed its toe on the way to a three-loss post-crystal season in 2010.  Coming off its second title in three years, Saban’s determined to keep a repeat of 2010 from happening again in 2012.  Could it happen again?  Of course, anything’s possible.  But, in the case, I wouldn’t bet on history repeating itself.

The Bad
If the Tide does party like it’s 2010, however, it will likely be because of a defense that led the country in nearly every major statistical in the run to another BcS title last season.  Gone from that suffocating defense are seven starters, including its top three tacklers and four of the top five total; its top two tackles-for-loss producers; and two of the three leaders in sacks.  Certainly, thanks to the bounty that is recruiting, there is plenty of on-paper talent that can fill the depth chart.  How fast those replacements can actually fill the sizable shoes left in the wake of departures, though, will determine whether a third title in four years is in the offing.

The Unknown
The defense wasn’t the only side of the ball impacted by departures.  The loss of running back Trent Richardson will certainly affect an offense that will be under the direction of a new coordinator — former Washington OC Doug Nussmeier.  While there’s plenty of talent in the backfield — starter Eddie Lacy and backups Jalston Fowler, Dee Hart and T.J. Yeldon — the addition of the pass-leaning Nussmeier could be a signal that Saban is ready to put more responsibility on the right shoulder of AJ McCarron.  The starting quarterback proved last season that he was more than capable of handling the responsibilities in a balanced offensive attack; if called upon — and that’s a big coaching if right now — can he handle a bigger responsibility in the passing game?  Stay tuned …

Make-or-break game: at LSU, Nov. 3
No offense to Arkansas or new SEC member Missouri or even non-conference foe Michigan, the game on both of these team’s schedules this season is a rematch of the BcS title game.  And the field-goal-laden regular season game that cost the Tide a shot at an SEC title.  Much like with the USC-Oregon game the same day, this contest has the potential to feature a pair of unbeaten, Top 5 teams if the schedule plays out as expected, although in this case it will likely determine which team represents its division in the conference championship game.  The bad news for the Tide is the fact that they will have to travel to Death Valley, a place where the Tide has won just once in its last four attempts.

Heisman hopeful: quarterback AJ McCarron
Should Saban decide to put more emphasis on the passing game, and should the Tide perform up to its preseason expectations, McCarron should at least merit considerations on the fringes of the Heisman discussion early on in the season.  In his first season as a starter last year McCarron completed nearly 67 percent of his passes, throwing for over 2,600 yards, 16 touchdowns and just five interceptions, finishing third in the SEC in passing efficiency.  With even a slight bump statistically, McCarron will likely find himself in the Heisman mix.

Return to CFT’s preseason Top 25

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Bowling Green HC Dino Babers helps save woman from burning car

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - SEPTEMBER 26: Head coach Dino Babers of the Bowling Green Falcons watches the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Ross-Ade Stadium on September 26, 2015 in West Lafayette, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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How about we start off the morning with something positive for a change?

As the Bowling Green caravan was driving back from Saturday’s game against Buffalo, a woman in front of the school’s four bus swerved and her vehicle hit the center divider on the Interstate in Northeast Ohio.  Shortly thereafter, the vehicle burst into flames.

That’s when Dino Babers, BGSU’s head coach, and trainer Chelsea Lowe jumped into action.  From the Toledo Blade:

The bus driver asked for permission to stop the bus, and I gave it to him — but I told him not to stop the other three buses,” Babers said. “Then he asked to go check out the car and see if the driver was hurt.

“I told him no, because if he was hurt there wouldn’t be anyone to drive the bus home.”

So that first BG bus, which was unaffected by the crash, stopped a short distance away, and Babers and Lowe went to the car.

“The closer we got to the car, the clearer we could see smoke billowing,” Lowe said. “We knew whoever was in the car wasn’t just going to walk away and have everything be OK.

Baber and Lowe were able to pull the 25-year-old woman away from the vehicle, and stayed with her until police and fire personnel arrived on the scene. The coach was even able to go back to the burning vehicle and retrieve the woman’s purse and keys.

As for Babers motivation in acting the way he did, read the Blade‘s account of the incident. It’ll be well worth your time.

UGA reaffirms commitment to Greyson Lambert as starting QB

ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 03:  Greyson Lambert #11 of the Georgia Bulldogs is tackled by Minkah Fitzpatrick #29, Reggie Ragland #19 and Geno Matias-Smith #24 of the Alabama Crimson Tide at Sanford Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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For those looking for a change under center Between the Hedges, think again.

In Georgia’s first loss Saturday, Alabama harassed and harangued Greyson Lambert into a miserable day.  The Virginia graduate transfer completed just 10-of-24 passes for 86 yards and an interception in the rain-soaked 38-10 home beatdown.

While some wondered whether UGA would pull the trigger and promote backup Brice Ramsey for the Week 6 game against Tennessee, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer indicated that no change at the position is on the horizon — and that Ramsey would still get his opportunities.

“It’s no secret we plan on playing Brice in every game,” Schottenheimer said. “Greyson doesn’t need to look over his shoulder because Brice is going to play. …

“We believe in competition. Greyson doesn’t need to go look over his shoulder in terms of who is starting the game. He needs to worry about moving the team. He knows Brice is going to come in at some point. Nothing has changed. The rotation is what it is.”

If you were just going off the most recent tape, Ramsey’s play actually made it an easy decision for the staff to stick with status quo. Inserted in an attempt to breathe some life into a limp offense, Ramsey completed 3-of-6 passes, although two of those completions went to Tide defenders.