Crimson Tide fans, book your vacation plans to sunny California.
If that line sounds familiar, it's because I wrote it Oct. 12, 2012 — in a blog post after the Southeastern Conference released its 2013 schedule.
It was weird not knowing then that Alabama was going to win the 2012 title but still being convinced the Tide was going to roll into the 2013-season Bowl Championship Series title game at the Rose Bowl.
It didn't take rocket science to reach the conclusion, only the ability to read.
Alabama's 2013 schedule, coupled with its momentum and monumental talent, made this the easiest pick since Secretariat.
Missing from Alabama's schedule were the three best teams from the SEC East: Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
The Crimson Tide had what appeared to be a tough neutral-site opener in Atlanta against Virginia Tech. The Hokies, though, are in an unexpected state of disrepair coming off a season in which they needed a 13-10 overtime bowl win over Rutgers to finish with a record of 7-6.
Alabama's other nonconference games were penciled-in walkovers against Colorado State (coached by former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain) and two predetermined 1-AA wins against Georgia State and Chattanooga.
Chattanooga? Does Nick Saban really think this is what football fans want to see?
"Probably not," the Alabama coach acknowledged at SEC media day.
The wheel-of-fortune SEC schedule rotation calls for games against Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Auburn, which combined to go 6-34 in SEC play last year.
There's nine Alabama wins without even breathing hard.
So what's left? The biggest challenge is a Sept. 14 trip to Johnny Football-ville. Texas A&M, in its first SEC season after jumping from the Big 12, last year shocked Alabama in Tuscaloosa, so the Crimson Tide will be highly motivated to exact revenge.
And there's now a question of whether Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, will even play against Alabama. He's being investigated by the NCAA for possibly selling his autograph.
If he doesn't play, mark down win No. 10.
Even if Alabama loses to Texas A&M, well, that didn't stop the Crimson Tide from rebounding to win last season's BCS title.
So that leaves a game at Mississippi State, which Alabama defeated last year, 38-7.
Beyond that, it's a two-game season, home Nov. 9 against Louisiana State and then the SEC championship game.
Alabama shut out LSU in the 2011-season BCS title game and won in Baton Rouge last year.
Pasadena was the site of Alabama's first BCS title under Saban in January 2010, and now you see why the Tide appears a lock to return.
Making Alabama preseason No.1 was just too easy, though. Like shooting Chattanooga catfish in a barrel.
Why put more pressure on the Crimson kids to win three straight national titles?
The last time Alabama was preseason No. 1, in 2010, it lost three games.
This ranking puts Alabama in the title game while keeping the Crimson Tide hungry and interested.
The Crimson Tide may very well be this season's best team, but there's no harm in letting the players prove it.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun