Alabama is not as good as it was last year.
Maybe Georgia, but other than the Bulldogs, no one.
Last year, the Crimson Tide went 13-0. This year, they lost to Texas A&M, but if they played nine more times Alabama might win them all.
The Tide did not have a good week of practice before the Aggies, according to Nick Saban on his radio show. They were not accustomed to being behind, and although they almost pulled it off, the Aggies kicked a field goal as time ran out for a 41-38 win.
There's a reason that back-to-back national championships are not common.
Players come and players go.
Alabama is the biggest supply chain of players for the NFL in the country, with 53 former players on NFL rosters. Ohio State is second with 47, and then comes LSU with 46 and Georgia with 35.
The SEC has 335 players in the NFL. Next is the Big Ten with 266.
The Arkansas Razorbacks have 14 active roster players.
Alabama has a linebacker, Will Anderson, who is being mentioned as a candidate for the Heisman Trophy.
That's one reason Saban didn't jump into the transfer portal with reckless abandon. He's already getting the best players in the country.
That's why they opened as a heavy favorite against Arkansas, plus the Razorbacks' three losses were against teams who had veteran quarterbacks.
Tide quarterback Bryce Young is a freshman. One of those NIL (name, image, likeness) millionaires. What he lacks in experience he makes up for in talent.
Young, a five-star recruit out of Santa Ana, Calif., is a dual threat who has completed 232 of his 327 passes for 3,025 yards and 33 touchdowns. He throws an interception about as often as Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump hug (he's thrown three). He's run 51 times, gained 167 yards and scored twice.
The Tide average 44 points per game and allow 18.
So they aren't as good as last year, but they are a very good football team and one that appears to be getting better and peaking at the right time.
The Tide's running game has not been as feared as it was in the past, and the secondary has given up some big plays.
Can Arkansas win? Sure, if they play a perfect game and Bama doesn't.
Most likely what it will come down to is talent, and while Arkansas has some, Alabama is loaded with five- and four-star recruits.
Not even the great Saban will have his team more prepared and motivated than Sam Pittman, which is why everyone from Saban to their radio play-by-play guy legendary Eli Gold have raved this week about what Pittman has accomplished in just his second year at Arkansas.
And his second year as a head coach which means a lot of former athletic directors blew it.
The Razorbacks were awful until Pittman was hired, and they appeared to be headed in the wrong direction.
No one could have possibly known how good the fit would be. It is like UA interim Chancellor Charles Robinson, a seamless transition that has wiped out most of the memories of their predecessors.
Both love the University of Arkansas and want to be there.
Pittman quietly instilled some confidence into his team a year ago, and this year has made them a unit of overachieving, totally believing hard-butts that are fearless.
They won't blink in the face of America's most consistent winner, and they won't back down from the fight.
It is as big of a challenge as when they went to Georgia, where they started slow and should have learned a lesson from that.
Alabama isn't as good as last year, but it is still hand-picked, prepared and really good.