TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It took exactly one week for Alabama to convince voters it's the best team in college football. A 41-14 thrashing of a top 10 team in Michigan on Saturday was enough to throw 28 more first-place votes the Crimson Tide's way and earn Alabama the No. 1 spot in the both the USA Today Coaches' and Associated Press Top 25 polls.
The championship hangover many pundits expected hasn't shown itself thus far. Alabama went to Texas and dominated the Wolverines, derailing Denard Robinson's Heisman campaign while putting on a display of nearly flawless offensive execution. UA jumped out to a three-touchdown lead before the first quarter had ended.
USC, LSU, Oregon and Oklahoma rounded out the top five. The Trojans received 11 first-pace votes to Alabama's 45. LSU had four such votes.
With many of the prognosticators questions about Alabama answered in Week 1 -- a totally overhauled defense, youth across the board and championship fatigue -- it seemed reasonable to assume the Tide would retake the No. 1 spot. When Saban spoke to the media on Monday morning, 24 hours before the poll was released, he addressed what expectations would be coming his team's way.
"Everyone thought we were too young, too inexperienced, couldn't handle success," Saban said. "Everybody was saying all those things about our team. Now, people are saying something different.
"But my question is what's different? Nothing. We're still young, we're still inexperienced. We've still got things to work on."
The Crimson Tide are still young, with six new starters on defense and a handful of rookies on offense, and they're still inexperienced by the same token. Whether they can handle success is still at question, as well.
"It's all about the progress that you make through the season and there's plenty of room for us to make progress," Saban said. "Successful teams are willing to do sometimes what unsuccessful teams aren't."
Voters minds likely won't be swayed this weekend as the Tide host the unranked Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. But a Week 3 date with the No. 8-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Ark., could be another barometer of just how good the Tide can be just six months after hoisting the national championship in New Orleans.
Alabama junior cornerback Dee Milliner, who was named to the Chuck Bednarik Award Player of the Week, said he had heard the Tide were voted No. 1 but was quick to point out that it was only after one game and that there are many more to go.
"We’re just not really worried about where we’re ranked in the polls right now," he said. "We won our first game. That’s really all this team has done. We’re just focused on winning the next game, and the game after that."
Junior guard Anthony Steen said the rankings weren't even on his radar.
"I didn''t know that," Steen said when asked about being No. 1. "I try not to pay too much attention to that --- just take it one week at a time."
Borges sizes up the defense
Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges lost to Alabama for the first time in his career Saturday. When he met with the media in Ann Arbor to discuss what the Alabama defense did right, he said simply, "They made a couple of excpetional plays," most notably Milliner's interception in the first half.
"Never in my life have I seen a corner knock a guy out of bounds, run back and intercept a fade," he said. "In 37 years of coaching I’ve never seen that happen. But the one corner was a really good player and did some nice things.
"Beating Alabama, the way in the past when I’ve coached against them, is you get into fist fights, you play a close game because they play great defense. You’ve got to hold on to the ball, not make mistakes and hope you can punch it out and have one more point than they do at the end. That’s how you beat that team. Nobody lights the scoreboard up against them."
Freshman linebacker Reggie Ragland was the only player wearing a black no-contact jersey at Tuesday's practice. He is questionable to play against Western Kentucky.