What were the expectations heading into Alabama's season? Were those expectations met?
It seems at Alabama the expectation is always the same - an undefeated, national championship season. No one said the expectation was realistic. Nevertheless, Coach Nick Saban's Crimson Tide, national champion in 2009 and again last year, was expected to compete for the BCS Championship again this season, and that is the case.
Alabama is 12-1, Southeastern Conference champion for the 23rd time, and headed to Miami to take on Notre Dame for the national championship.
What one player stands out as the Tide's key factor to success (or lack thereof) this season?
It's almost always the case that the quarterback is key to success, and Alabama's A.J. McCarron has had a very good season, following up on his initial year as a starter in which he led the Tide to the national championship and was Offensive MVP of the national championship game.
Although he was only second team All-SEC, that was second to [Heisman winner] Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M. McCarron ranked among the national leaders all season in passing efficiency and set the Alabama record for touchdown passes in a season with 26 and is closing in on the career record in only his second year.
When did the momentum shift for Alabama this season?
Although a late season home loss to Texas A&M could have deflated the Crimson Tide, the team was able to keep its focus and finish the season with a 12-1 record.
Alabama was at Baton Rouge for the third meeting in a year against LSU and it looked ominous for Bama with 1:34 to play and the Tide trailing 17-14. But quarterback A.J. McCarron directed a five-play, 72-yard drive in only 43 seconds - the last a 28-yard screen pass to freshman tailback T.J. Yeldon - and Alabama escaped Tiger Stadium with a 21-17 victory.
How has this season affected recruiting in the class of 2013?
Alabama has had excellent recruiting classes every year under Coach Nick Saban, now in his sixth season in Tuscaloosa, and there is no reason to expect this to be any different. Certainly playing for the national championship has a positive effect on recruiting.
What is your team's biggest Christmastime headline?
Alabama vs. Notre Dame - the two biggest names in college football - play for the national championship.
Thanks to 'Bama Mag's Kirk McNair for his in-depth contribution to this report.