Alabama's national championship ambitions didn't depart with quarterback Greg McElroy and those four first-round draft picks.
All-America safety Mark Barron says the Crimson Tide's goal for the season is to go undefeated and win a second national championship in three years. He says every time they step on the field part of their motivation "is to be special."
Alabama is still choosing between quarterbacks AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims, still seeking a left tackle and trying to identifying the playmakers at receiver.
But the Tide also has tailback Trent Richardson and a defense that placed five players on the preseason All-Southeastern Conference first team.
Alabama faces road trips to Penn State, Florida, Mississippi State and Auburn.
The Auburn Tigers are hoping to prove people wrong again.
The Tigers rose from modest expectations to a national title last season. Now, they're picked to finish fifth in the SEC Western Division after a major roster overhaul.
Gone are Cam Newton, Nick Fairley and most of the team's star power. Returning are six starters and that underdog mentality.
Cornerback T'Sharvan Bell says all the doubt "just fires me up."
There are plenty of pressing questions, including a three-man race to replace Newton at quarterback among Barrett Trotter, Clint Moseley and freshman Kiehl Frazier.
This season could provide another gauge of how much the program has stabilized under coach Gene Chizik. The Tigers have signed back-to-back top 5 recruiting classes.