Alabama demolished Notre Dame 42-14 on Monday night at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., solidifying its status as a modern-day dynasty and signaling the start of the long and winding road known as the college football offseason.
It will be a pleasant drive for the Crimson Tide, but the best is yet to come.
Quarterback AJ McCarron is a big reason why.
The rising senior signal-caller already announced that he will return to Tuscaloosa for his senior season. The Mobile, Ala. native earned Offensive MVP of the 2012 BCS National Championship Game following the 2011 season, and has completed 69 percent of his passes for 498 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions in two career title games.
Counting the 2009 season, McCarron's redshirt year, he has three BCS National Championship rings. That's one more ring than he has losses as a starting quarterback.
With McCarron returning, Alabama is not only the odds-on favorite to be preseason No. 1, but will likely three-peat as BCS National Champions.
Alabama's win on Monday night broke a streak of three straight seasons in which a team with a first-year starter at quarterback won the BCS National Championship. McCarron's ability to stay within the game plan and not become rattled on the game's biggest stage is a big reason why.
He has the ability, experience, supporting cast, schedule and recruiting class coming in that sets up nicely for him to solidify his place as one of the most decorated quarterbacks in college football history.
Of the 17 seniors on Alabama's 2012 roster, only nine were on scholarship, according to USA Today. Sure, junior cornerback Dee Milliner, running back Eddie Lacy and offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, could decide to jump to the NFL early, but this Alabama team is built to withstand the attrition.
It's a cliche, but in Alabama's case, it's accurate—it doesn't rebuild, it reloads.
Will Alabama win the 2013 national title?
Just look at the underclassmen that were contributors last night for the Tide. Wide receiver Amari Cooper, a freshman, had 105 receiving yards and two touchdowns. T.J. Yeldon, a freshman, had 108 rushing yards and a score. HaHa Clinton-Dix, a sophomore, had seven tackles, one tackle for loss, one pass breakup and a highlight-reel interception.
Plus, Alabama's schedule next season is incredibly manageable.
Saban is 15-4 with two or more weeks to prepare for an opponent since arriving at Alabama. In Alabama's three biggest games next season, the season opener vs. Virginia Tech in Atlanta, the second game of the season at Texas A&M and the Nov. 9 matchup with LSU in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide will have at least two weeks to prepare.
Just how will Alabama reload? They have the nation's top recruiting class in the country coming this season, according to 247Sports.com. That class will likely feature running back Derrick Henry, tight end O.J. Howard and wide receiver Robert Foster—all of whom are rated as 5-star players.
The chips are lining up for McCarron to make another title run in 2013.
Would you bet against him? I wouldn't.