Nick Saban and the Tide are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive BCS national titles.
There’s a simple reason no team has won three consecutive national titles: It's extremely hard to do.
But that’s the challenge facing Nick Saban’s Alabama squad in 2013. .
To no one’s surprise, Alabama occupied the top spot in both preseason polls.
The schedule is favorable, and the roster has a nice blend of seasoned veterans and a boatload of underclassmen who are ready to step into the spotlight.
While Alabama is absolutely loaded, a few issues remain that could prevent it from capturing its fourth national title in the last five seasons.
Depth at Corner
Dee Milliner’s early departure leaves a sizable hole in the Tide’s secondary. Specifically, the situation at corner is largely unsettled.
This was an issue before last weekend’s arrest of rising sophomore corner Geno Smith—an incident reported by the Associated Press via SI.com.
While Smith’s punishment has yet to be determined, B/R’s Barrett Sallee expanded on how Smith’s potential absence could affect the Tide’s title hopes.
Senior Deion Belue, who had his struggles last season starting opposite Milliner, enters the season as the Tide’s top corner. Senior John Fulton and Smith are the only other corners with any notable experience.
Fulton has struggled to stay healthy and converted receiver Cyrus Jones is already in the two-deep despite having moved over to defense in the spring.
While Saban brought in a trio of talented freshmen in the 2013 recruiting class, the defense could be in trouble if they are counted on heavily at some point this fall.
The Tide survived losses in November in each of the last two seasons and were fortunate enough to still make it to the BCS title game.
The strength and reputation of the SEC benefited the Tide when teams above them faltered down the stretch.
While starting at the top of the polls could benefit Alabama should it suffer a defeat in the regular season, its schedule appears to be less challenging than in previous years. That could hinder its chances to be the beneficiary of chaos for the third season in a row.
Can Alabama catch all the breaks necessary to win a championship if it happens to falter again in the regular season?
Staying on Top Is Hard to Do
Saban’s process has conquered many obstacles, including the tendency of human nature to let complacency sink in after extended periods of success.
However, with a national championship being the only outcome that could be considered a success for the 2013 team, there’s little margin for error.
Programs such as LSU, Texas A&M and Georgia were able to push the Tide to the limit last season. Those clubs and a host of other teams have reloaded for a shot at dethroning the sport’s current alpha male.
Alabama has earned the respect that comes with building a dynasty, and the road to crowning the national champions will certainly go through Tuscaloosa.
However, the path that comes with making history is sure to provide more than a few bumps along the way.