Assessing Bama's quest for back-to-back 

April, 7, 2010
I realize it's extremely difficult for any college football program to win back-to-back national titles. I also am aware that the Alabama Crimson Tide lose nine defensive starters. But Nick Saban's crew is my early-season pick to be the No. 1 team in the country.

This week's top-10 list: the biggest reasons the Tide should be the favorite to win the BCS title in 2010.

1. The tandem of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson.
No team, with the possible exception of the Virginia Tech Hokies, has a running back combination as gifted as Alabama's. Ingram won the school's first Heisman Trophy last season by running for almost 1,700 yards and scoring 20 touchdowns. He was outstanding in just about every game the Tide played. Richardson -- a younger, more hyped recruit when he arrived at Bama last year -- is even more dynamic. Both should be 1,000-yard rushers this season and combine for 2,500 rushing yards; that will again provide a huge physical presence for this offense.

2. Julio Jones is healthy.
The 6-foot-4 junior, who battled a knee injury for much of the 2009 season, is in the best shape of his life. Reports say the wide receiver is up to 225 pounds; he told colleague Chris Low that he has only 4 percent body fat. Jones is the main reason defenses can't completely load up to try to take away the running game. In a recent scrimmage, he had eight catches.