McElroy and Ingram enough to turn Longhorns’ faces crimson
When Nick Saban walked away from the 2008 SEC Championship Game wondering if this recruiting class was destined to fall short he couldn't possibly have imagined the glory heading towards the Alabama Crimson Tide this year.
His first concern come the off-season was the most obvious, he needed to drill into his troops that they had it in them to overcome the mighty, consecutive National Champions, Florida Gators.
It's a task easier said than done when you're forced to constantly play second fiddle to one of the greatest partnerships the NCAA has ever seen in Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow.
It was Tebow's last year, they were chasing an unprecedented third successive BCS National Championship and they'd come back from the break having transitioned from the best offensive teams in college football to one of the best defensive sides.
That switch may just have been the glimmer of light the Crimson Tide needed though.
Urban Meyer needed his defence to step up and be counted more than ever when the NFL draft took receiving duo Louis Murphy and potential NFL rookie of the year Percy Harvin.
And step up they did for the majority of the season, the problem was, they failed to execute at the Georgia Dome as Mark Ingram delivered the SEC torch back to Tuscaloosa.
The offence run that day became a tactical masterstroke by Saban who, for so long had been forced to live with being the nearly-team while the Gators garnered all the press - the 32-13 win was more than deserved.
The next thing Saban had to work out was how to replace his departing starting quarterback John Parker Wilson but that proved his easiest job of all.
Greg McElroy had been sat in the stands for three seasons patiently waiting for his opportunity, and when it did eventually arrive he grabbed it with both hands.
Admittedly life was made slightly simpler by the presence of Ingram and one of the toughest offensive lines in the business but McElroy wasn't willing to hand off all the credit to his peers.
He was accurate, consistent and always competitive even when he was backed onto the ropes for several games in the middle of the season - his willingness not to crumble became almost as important as the seventeen touchdowns he contributed.
The senior QB would tell you his climax has yet to come, however his performance against the Gators was impeccable and showed the Tide have plenty of offence beyond Mark Ingram.
It was enough to make you believe Alabama's biggest opponent now could be complacency.
They hold the most valued NCAA conference title, they have the Heisman Trophy winner, they have the momentum and the Texas Longhorns, on paper, represent a less challenging prospect than the Gators.
We're not talking about a team lacking focus here though, the goal for this class has always been to land a first national championship for Alabama since 1993 and every member of the roster wants their name written into the Crimson Tide's celebrated history.
It isn't about Nick Saban gaining himself a first national title or McElroy ensuring he keeps a perfect school and college record intact, it's about the offence and defence both proving they genuinely are head and shoulders above any other college.
If any man on the Crimson Tide roster is beginning to believe the hype then Saban is sure to remind them that for every Florida performance there is a lacklustre showing waiting in the midst - the 12-10 Tennessee victory springs instantly to mind.
It isn't like Mack Brown's Big 12 champions Longhorns don't deserve tonnes of respect either, especially with Colt McCoy under centre.
Last year's Heisman runner-up might not have been quite so spectacular this season but the job he did keeping Texas together when it could all have gone wrong is where he really excelled.
At the start of the year they looked a mile of national championship contenders, by the end they were fully deserving of an unbeaten record, a number two seed and a place on the plane to Pasadena.
In reality though, when the likes of Javier Arenas, Rolando McClain and Terrence Cody are coming for McCoy, he's in big trouble - and the Crimson Tide will be celebrating a very impressive thirteenth Championship.
Betting prediction: Alabama to cover -4.0 spread - 10/11