Combine the preseason rankings of four major magazines, and the Crimson Tide emerge as the No. 5 team nationally and the favorite to claim the Southeastern Conference Western Division. Only Yahoo! Sports picked the Tide to be in the top 5, but strong disagreement among the other three — Athlon, Lindy’s and Phil Steele — push Alabama down the chart. Nick Saban’s team is one of five programs to make the top 10 in all four rankings.
With several unanswered questions on offense, the prognosticators expect the Tide defense to carry the team through the season. Linebacker Rolando McClain landed on three first-team All-American teams and one third-team (Athlon) while nose guard Terrence Cody earned a spot on all four first-teams.
Freshmen such as running back Trent Richardson and offensive lineman D.J. Fluker have been given plenty of preseason hype. Lindy’s suggested the 6-foot-7, 350-pound Fluker could step into Outland Trophy winner Andre Smith’s role and open his freshman season as a starter.
Alabama football consensus No. 5 in preseason magazines