From May 20-31, Insider's college football experts will examine the national championship chances of the 10 teams with the best odds to win the BCS title this season, according to Brian Fremeau's post-spring projections.
Today, Alex Scarborough takes a look at the path the Alabama Crimson Tide could take to the national championship game and the factors that could trip them up along the way.
It's gruff and unyielding, the pursuit of national championships. If it's a pleasant task, it's not looked back on fondly until some years later, if at all.
Alabama coach Nick Saban refuses to glance in the rearview mirror at his team's accomplishments. We see it in news conferences and television interviews all the time, a one-track mind where the dreaded third rail is clearly marked as the past. Ask the question any way you want, if it doesn't involve the future of the program, he's not interested in answering it.
Call it a lesson of five decades spent coaching or simply a reminder that the 2010 season can repeat itself at any time. Back then, the defending champion Crimson Tide were the presumptive favorite to win the title with a talented defense and a senior quarterback, yet they stumbled over expectations, finishing the season at the Capital One Bowl against Michigan State.
Since then, Alabama has gone 25-2, won back-to-back national championships and established itself as a modern dynasty. Just don't tell Saban that. Don't mention the word "dynasty." It might slow him down. And he can't bring himself to feel like he's fallen a step behind, even if that means considering what happened only four months ago when Alabama throttled Notre Dame in Miami.
No, Saban is too busy tinkering with a team that ESPN Insider's Brian Fremeau projects to finish 11-1 this season. Alabama's 62 percent chance of winning the SEC eclipses the second-best odds of South Carolina at 10 percent.
But the Crimson Tide's path to the SEC title game in Atlanta and on to the national championship in Pasadena, Calif., isn't guaranteed. Let's take a look at the reasons why and why not.