Chris Dufresne’s preseason college football top 25: No. 4 Alabama

Alabama will be a marked team this season, the nonconference schedule is tough — with Penn State coming to Tuscaloosa — and the SEC West is even tougher.

“I think Mississippi State is going to be better,” Saban said. “I think Ole Miss is going to be better. I think Auburn is going to be better. I think everyone on our end of it is going to improve.”

It’s easy to get excited. Last season, the Crimson Tide won it all despite having to replace its starting quarterback and offensive line. Greg McElroy stepped at quarterback and continued his streak — dating to middle school — of never having lost a game as a starter.