Alabama began the 2016 season ranked No. 1 and stayed No. 1 until the final second of the CFP national championship game against Clemson. The next day, when media outlets began projecting the 2017, the vast majority had Alabama again at No. 1.

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When the Associated Press released its preseason media poll on Aug. 21, Alabama was No. 1. Ditto for the coaches poll.

We should not be surprised because this marks the ninth straight time that Alabama under Nick Saban has been ranked No. 1 at some point during the season. Only Nebraska’s Tom Osborne, with four straight years at No. 1, is even in the conversation.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

Despite losing seven starters on defense, including national defensive player of the year Jonathan Allen, Alabama is an overwhelming favorite to win its fourth straight SEC championship. Why? Because the Crimson Tide under Saban has signed seven straight No. 1 recruiting classes. And he can flat coach them up.

So I’m going with Alabama all the way to the CFP National Championship game in Atlanta, which is where the Tide opens the season Saturday night against No. 3 Florida State.

But one final note to consider: This is the fourth time Alabama has begun the season at No. 1 under Saban. In none of those previous three times did the Crimson Tide win the national championship.

Just sayin’.