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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron offers a primer for what it takes to fit in with the top-ranked Crimson Tide.

For starters, don’t fixate on the shot at a historic threepeat, BCS-or-bust expectations or the anointment by pollsters as the team to beat.

It is all about Virginia Tech, taking it one game at a time, staying focused and all the other clichés that get trotted out in the football building each year about this time. In short, ignore what Alabama coach Nick Saban puts under the “external factors” umbrella.

“I feel like if you don’t think that way, you’re kind of irrelevant a little to the team,” McCarron said Monday. “Everybody needs to have the same mindset. We can’t worry about what everybody thinks, what everybody’s predicting.”

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Alabama faces the Hokies, 7-6 last season, Saturday in Atlanta.

Although coaches and players try to ignore it, Alabama is aiming to make history.

Major-college football has had repeat national champions 10 times since the first AP poll in 1936. But none has made it three in a row. None has gone wire to wire at No. 1 since USC in 2004.

Alabama has the expectations born of winning 49 games and three national titles the last four seasons. The exception was a 2010 team that opened at No. 1 and lost three times — a season that became an example of what can happen if a team buys into the hype.

“It’s an example, but we’ve been preaching that for years now,” McCarron said. “We can’t worry about it. That was a different team then and it’s a different team now. Got different players and different mindsets among the team as individuals. We’ve got to focus on our goal this year, our purpose to be out there.”


• Oklahoma offensive lineman Jacob Reed, 23, was suspended from school after he was charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend and breaking into her apartment Sunday.

Sean Mannion was named No. 25 Oregon State’s starting quarterback for Saturday’s game against visiting Eastern Washington. Mannion beat out Cody Vaz for the job.

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