Alabama is 49-5 over the past four seasons, with three of those losses coming in '10.
"Most other teams are out there saying we've got something to prove," Saban said. "Well, this team has something to prove. It's a lot more difficult not to be a little bit complacent, not to keep the same accountability to being successful that's necessary. You've got to challenge yourself every day. You've got to challenge each other."
Since the poll started in 1936, 10 times has a school has won consecutive AP championships.
The Tide's task: complete the hat trick.
Alabama will also be trying to run the Southeastern Conference's streak of national championships to eight. For the second straight year, half the top 10 teams to start the season are from the SEC. Joining Alabama and Georgia are South Carolina at No. 6, Texas A&M at No. 7 and Florida at No. 10.
The Tide and Aggies meet Sept. 14 in College Station, Texas. A&M and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel handed Alabama its only loss last year. Whether Manziel will be eligible for the rematch remains in question while the NCAA investigates the Aggies' quarterback. ESPN has reported Manziel is under investigation for being paid to sign autographs.
No. 8 Clemson and No. 9 Louisville, led by two other Heisman-contender quarterbacks, round out the top 10. Tajh Boyd and Clemson take on Georgia at home in Week 1 and are the favorites to win the Atlantic Coast Conference. Teddy Bridgewater and the Cardinals are the heavy favorites to get back to the BCS for the second straight year out of the newly renamed American Athletic Conference.
McCarron also makes most of the preseason Heisman contender lists. He passed for 2,933 yards and 30 touchdowns with only three interceptions last season. Now in his third season as a starter, McCarron is the face of the Tide.