Any team hoping to take down No. 1 Alabama has to start here

Wednesday September 4th, 2013
AJ McCarron threw a school-record 30 touchdowns last season in leading 'Bama to back-to-back titles.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The fear of losing -- far more than the joy of winning -- is what drives Saban. And there he was late on Saturday, the last Tide staff member stepping onto an idling team bus, his face still a portrait of midgame intensity more than two hours after the final whistle. He took a seat in the front row and as Trailways #99384 rolled into the Georgia darkness, Saban wore the concerned look of a man with a problem. Only 13 days remained until he came face to face with Johnny Football. Make no mistake: The best college football coach of his generation was worried.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide — from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Grant Wahl, Andy Staples and more — delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.