The best college football team in 2014 will be the same team that was the best in 2013.
Oh, yeah. Florida State won the national championship. Alabama got embarrassed by Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. The Crimson Tide didn't even win their own state championship.
The better team doesn't always win the game, and the best team doesn't always win the championship. The 2007 New England Patriots might be the best team of all time. They're the only team in NFL history to ever hold an 18-0 record. They set an NFL record with a 315-point differential.
But thanks to one ridiculously lucky catch by David Tyree, they lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants. The fact that Tyree somehow pinned the ball to the crown of his helmet with one hand and didn't lose it when he hit the turf doesn't lessen the greatness of that Patriots team.
The preseason polls are out. As expected, Florida State is the near unanimous No. 1 team in the country. That's understandable given that the Seminoles ran the table last year and return most of their key players, including the Heisman winner, Jameis Winston.
After Florida State, it's up for grabs. The Seminoles received all but six No. 1 votes in the coaches' poll. Interestingly, none of those votes went to Alabama. Oklahoma got three with Oregon, Ohio State and South Carolina getting the other three. In the Associated Press poll, FSU got all but three No. 1 votes. Those three went to Oklahoma, Oregon and Alabama.
But preseason polls are about as meaningful as a vow from Bobby Petrino. Yeah, the Seminoles will probably devour the cotton candy soft ACC. And they'll probably get by a rebuilding Florida team, although that's certainly no given.
This year, college football has a four-team playoff to legitimize the championship. If this playoff format had been in place last season, Alabama and Auburn would have met in a rematch. The other semifinal game would have been Michigan State and Florida State. Any one of those four teams could have won it all. I would have liked Alabama's chances.
As for this Bama team, yes, it has some concerns. The quarterbacks, Jacob Coker and Blake Sims, are unproven. The secondary is the most inexperienced group since Nick Saban's first year at Alabama. The front seven lacks the dominant players Alabama has been known for in recent years. The Crimson Tide placed only one player on the front seven -- linebacker Trey DePriest, first-team -- on the three-deep preseason All-SEC team.
But if anybody believes the Tide will not have another strong if not dominant defensive team, they've not been paying attention. They've had the No. 1 signing class in the country each of the last five years. I have to think some dominant defensive players will emerge from the pack.
The schedule is lenient enough for the defense to develop. None of their first four opponents finished last season in the top 75 in scoring -- West Virginia (79th), Florida Atlantic (78th), Southern Miss (117th) and Florida (112th). Their first test will be the fifth game of the season at Ole Miss (57th). Two of the next three opponents are Arkansas (105th) and Tennessee (94th).
With Texas A&M having to replace Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans, and LSU replacing Zach Mettenberger, Odell Beckham Jr and Jeremy Hill, it's conceivable that Alabama will not face a truly explosive offense until the Iron Bowl.
As important as quarterback is, that's the only question mark on offense. The Tide may have the best collection of running backs, receivers and tight ends in the country. The line is at least good enough and could be dominant.
Complacency and pressure of defending their national championship wore the Tide down last season. There's no reason to think Florida State will be immune to the same problems.
Give me Alabama, and you can have the field.
-- Guerry Clegg is an independent correspondent. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org