1) Alabama Crimson Tide
Key Player: QB Jalen Hurts
Many could argue the quarterback position is always the key, especially for a team that is consistently the top contender heading into the season. Hurts was not always counted on last season to thread the needle. Against Clemson when RB Bo Scarbrough missed significant time in the second half, the offense had issues moving the ball (three punts, one touchdown). Hurts is one of the finest, most physical runners at his position. He must though improve in the pocket and some question how successful the offense will be without TE OJ Howard and OC Lane Kiffin.
Key Stat: Preseason Future Teller?
The good news: Three times under Nick Saban we have seen the Tide claim the AP preseason top spot in late August.
Bad news: Despite finishing top 10 in all three of those occurrences under Saban, Alabama has never won it all when starting a season out in the number one spot.
Key Game: 11/25 at Auburn
The opener against Florida State could be the first ever season opener between top two or three teams, ever. However, even with a loss against the Noles, the Tide will bounce back due to its late season gauntlet. LSU awaits, but the Iron Bowl very likely will decide who wins the West and ends up being favored to represent the conference in both the SEC title game as well as potentially the CFP.