After three seasons of success under Nick Saban, Alabama is preparing for the most anticipated season of its history.
With an opening at No. 1 in the country, the Crimson Tide has been playing to win now.
The Alabama defense that defeated Clemson in the national title game was arguably the best in the nation.
In a season that saw a plethora of changes and a new offensive coordinator in Nick Saban and a plethora at the other defensive line spots, the Alabama defense has looked sharp.
The Crimson Tide will face Alabama again next week in the Rose Bowl, where the Tide will play the defending champion Clemson Tigers in a national championship game.
The first two weeks of the season have been extremely challenging for Alabama, which is playing in its first-ever bowl game and has never won a national title in its history, and now the Crimson Tigers are looking to take home the crown.
“It’s very exciting,” defensive coordinator Kiffin said.
“It’s a big deal, it’s a great opportunity.
You want to go out there and be aggressive, you want to compete and do what you’re supposed to do.
You don’t want to be timid.
If you can get guys to be that way, it can be good.”
As of Thursday, Alabama was ranked No. 10 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 4 in the Associated Press Coaches poll.
But the Crimson, like other top-ranked teams, have been playing with a lot of uncertainty in the locker room.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen, so we’re going to get out there, and just play football,” defensive end Derek Barnett said.
“That’s what we did against them last year, so that’s why we’re ready to go.
I think it’s going in a good direction, and we’re just going to do what we’re supposed, to play football.”
Alabama, which finished with an 8-4 record in 2016, won the first two games of the 2016 season, defeating Notre Dame and Stanford.
But injuries kept the Crimson out of the title game for most of the year.
The team finished with a 6-4 mark, including a 3-2 record against ACC teams, but only played in two bowl games in the first four seasons of Saban’s tenure.
After facing the No. 2 ranked team in the conference, the No 3 ranked team and the No 5 ranked team, Alabama will face a No. 5 ranked Clemson team in Pasadena on Feb. 4, 2021.
The game will be a rematch of the 2017 title game between the Crimson and Tigers, but this time the Crimson will be facing a No 4 ranked team.
The win will go a long way toward making Alabama the first team to win four straight national titles since the University of Georgia in 1966.
Alabama is also looking to make a statement.
Last week, the school announced that the Alabama football team will wear the No 10 jersey as part of the celebration for the university’s 40th anniversary.
“I know what it means to be an Alabama fan, to be a fan of our football team, to have our tradition here,” Kiffin told reporters.
“I know we’re not the only school doing it.
It’s a symbol for us, a symbol of what we’ve done.
We’re a great team.
We just want to do it the right way.”
Follow AJ Jacobs on Twitter: @ajjacksonsports