Before this season ever started it was linked to 2010.
The comparisons ranged from being seasons after winning a national championship, losing a bunch of starters, returning a quarterback, getting complacent, expectations, the schedule, etc., etc. and so forth.
And six weeks into the 2012 season, there's another similarity—the Crimson Tide, coming off the '09 national title, was ranked No. 1 with a 5-0 record heading into its second SEC road game.
Alabama is currently 5-0, rated the No. 1 team in the country and is traveling into unchartered territory this weekend when it goes to Columbia, Missouri to take on the Tigers, who are 0-3 in their new conference.
Now, the Tide didn't have a bye week in between its fifth and sixth game that year like it did this year, and that South Carolina team was much better than the Mizzou crew on tap for this weekend, but some facts remain the same: in both circumstances, Alabama was 5-0 coming off a national title, getting ready to dive into the meat of conference play.
Head coach Nick Saban and the veterans on this year's team have worked overtime to not be complacent, to not have an "I told you so" game and to not be the 2010 team.
Though it seems the Tide has coasted through its first five games, outscoring opponents 201-35, the players learned during their off weekend on Shakeup Saturday that anything can happen in college football.
"I think it proved the only thing predictable about college football is its unpredictability," Saban said. "The key to the whole thing is consistency in performance, having a group of players that are committed to doing the things they need to go to play the game at a high standard and a high level all the time regardless of the circumstance or situation."
Senior safety Robert Lester recalls 2010 very well and can tell this year is different.
"There's a lot more leadership and there's a lot more guys that don't want those feelings to come back as we had in 2010," he said. "Leaving South Carolina after a loss, it was horrible. I knew what it felt like and a lot more guys knew what it felt like. Like Nico [Johnson], Dee [Milliner]. We don't want our younger guys to go through that and we definitely don't want to go through it again."
Since Saban has been in Tuscaloosa, Alabama's open date has usually come after the Tennessee game later in October. But Lester thinks having it earlier this year will prove beneficial.
"It think it was perfect timing," he said. "It gave younger guys a chance to look at the other teams and see them not bringing their A-game and actually lose a game. Maybe they learned a lesson while not actually going out there and learning a lesson and it costing us."
The Tide plays in Baton Rouge and hosts the Iron Bowl this year, too.
But the outcomes remain to be seen and if this year's crew has truly taken on a different identity from their 2010 selves, the results won't be one of comparison.
"Honestly, we haven't reached a point yet where we've defined who we are," said senior left guard Chance Warmack. "I think we're getting to that point this month in October what we actually are as a team, finding an identity for ourselves. As the months get longer, we're going to have to an identity for our team."
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