What’s the other kind of rat poison again? If I recall correctly, Nick Saban called it “yummy rat poison” after Alabama upset Georgia in the SEC Championship this past year.

Well, here ya go, Alabama. Feast on this yummy rat poison.

My pick to win it all in 2022 is Ohio State, not Alabama.

Yes, I realize that when the rest of the preseason predictions come out over the summer, it’ll be hard not to pick the Tide to win a title. I mean, we’re talking about a group that could be the second unanimous preseason No. 1 in AP Poll history with the first being 2015 Ohio State. That Buckeyes squad was coming off a title in which it beat Alabama, and it was assumed that with Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa, Mike Thomas and a host of other future pros, it was set up for a repeat in 2015.

That didn’t happen, though. Ohio State didn’t get a shot at the title. Instead, Alabama fended off Clemson star Deshaun Watson and won its first title since — wait for it — 2012!

Watching a preseason No. 1 team come up short is more common than you think. The stat I’ll scream from the mountaintops this offseason is one that is wildly underrated with preseason prediction discussions.

In the past 17 seasons, only 1 team that was preseason AP No. 1 won the national title that year. It was 2017 Alabama, which barely made the field as a 4-seed, non-division champ and had to rally back from a double-digit deficit in the title game to win in overtime.

Really. Go look up all of those preseason AP No. 1 teams if you don’t believe me.

What about all of those other years that Alabama won titles like 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2020?

In 2009, Tim Tebow was back for his senior season after winning a title, so Florida was No. 1. In 2011, Alabama had an extremely rare 3-loss regular season in 2010 after being preseason No. 1, so Oklahoma claimed the top spot heading into that season. The most egregious one was 2012 because Alabama was coming off a title, yet Lane Kiffin’s USC squad with Matt Barkley and 18 returning starters got the No. 1 nod. And 2020 was pre-draft year Trevor Lawrence with that loaded Clemson offense that got the top preseason spot instead of an Alabama team coming off a 2-loss regular season.

What do I make of all that? For starters, winning national titles is extremely difficult, no matter who you are. The most dominant program we’ve seen in the modern era of the sport has only started and finished No. 1 once.

Is that just a byproduct of … rat poison? There’s something to be said for that. Even though the narrative is that only a few teams can win a national title and that it’s too predictable, let’s also not forget about the college football offseason. It’s long. Eight months of hearing about being the best team in the country can impact a program’s mindset, especially during the internet era we’re talking about. There are far more distractions than picking up a few preseason magazines and catching the occasional radio show. It’s not a surprise that in that same 17-year stretch, Alabama repeating in 2011-12 is the lone such occurrence.

Of course, Alabama isn’t trying to repeat. It watched Georgia rally back in the 4th quarter and win its first national championship in 41 years. There’s no doubt that the Tide have all of those “revenge tour” narratives.

But then there’s Ohio State. Any time the Buckeyes are mentioned, they’re likely coming after Alabama. Any time CJ Stroud is mentioned, it’s likely coming after Bryce Young. To be fair, that’s how it should be.

After winning that first Playoff title in 2014, the Buckeyes have just 1 Playoff victory, and it was the 2020 semifinal game against Clemson. Justin Fields delivered a performance for the ages with hurt ribs and sent the Buckeyes to Miami … where they were kicked in the teeth by Alabama.

Some might look at that and say “how could you ever pick Ohio State to beat Alabama?” I’d say, well, tell me how many of those guys are still on each team. Only 2 guys who started for Ohio State that night are still on the team (nose tackle Jerron Cage and safety Josh Proctor) while Alabama only has 3 guys, though 2 of them (Will Anderson and Jordan Battle) are preseason All-Americans.

Just because Ohio State thought it could guard DeVonta Smith with Tuf Borland doesn’t mean that we would see the same horrendous mismatch play out 2 years later.

In fact, Ohio State’s offseason move was made to combat that exact scenario. New defensive coordinator Jim Knowles was brought from Oklahoma State, where his 4-2-5 defense finished No. 9 in the country in scoring and was No. 14 in FBS in passing efficiency defense. That’s why Ryan Day broke the bank — Knowles will start at $1.9 million annually — to help give Ohio State that last missing piece on defense.

Let’s rephrase that. “Last missing piece” implies that Ohio State had a good, not great defense last year. That wasn’t the case, especially against the pass, where the Buckeyes ranked No. 96 in FBS. The combination of not getting a consistent pass rush and lacking speed at linebacker led to that. That can only change by getting more production from a wealth of returning defensive ends coupled with that scheme change that should, in theory, avoid putting linebackers in tough spots to cover in space (Knowles is also coaching the linebackers group himself).

Ohio State taking advantage of Alabama’s biggest weakness — an offensive line loaded with more questions than answers — is pivotal. That group was also why Alabama couldn’t impose its will last year and it was in 1-score games in the 4th quarter in 6 of 8 conference games during the regular season.

Like the Tide, we know the Buckeyes can and will light up scoreboards. In fact, they’re a better bet than Alabama to have the nation’s top offense. Ohio State owned that title in 2021, and somewhat quietly, it averaged 4 points per game more than the next closest Power 5 team. Obviously, returning Stroud, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, TreVeyon Henderson and Marvin Harrison Jr. suggests that this group will put up north of 40 points per contest with ease.

Who will “block” Anderson and Dallas Turner, you ask?

(I put the world “block” in air quotes because you don’t really block them so much as you just try to not let them terrorize your offense.)

Dewand Jones’ return was massive at right tackle after he had PFF’s No. 7 overall grade among Power 5 right tackles (slightly above Alabama’s Evan Neal). He’s an ESPN preseason All-American while Paris Johnson Jr. is going from starting right guard to starting left tackle. Why does he project well there? Like, besides the fact that he was the No. 1 overall tackle recruit in the 2020 class and is getting way-too-early 2023 NFL Draft love?

Again, nobody is saying that Johnson and Jones are about to turn Anderson and Turner into Pop Warner edge guys. But having reliable options at the tackle positions — something Alabama is still figuring out — does seem essential to taking down Alabama.

For the record, that’s the scenario we’re discussing here. I still have Alabama getting to the title game, just as it did in 6 of the past 7 seasons. I’m high on the transfer portal additions at the skill positions, and I don’t think it’s crazy to predict that Alabama ends the season with 4 All-Americans on defense alone (don’t forget about Eli Ricks).

But I wonder if Ohio State perhaps isn’t as far behind Alabama as some would think. We know there won’t be some massive talent disparity with a pair of programs who have been in the top 3 of the 247sports talent composite rankings each of the past 5 seasons. That likely won’t change in 2022, either.

I believe there’s a perfectly realistic chance that 2 evenly matched teams show up to face off for all the marbles. Seven times in the past 17 years, the preseason AP No. 1 team made it to the title game. You’d think that would favor the preseason No. 1. Just by reaching the title game, they showed they could handle those expectations.

Yet what’s the record of preseason No. 1 teams in the title game during that stretch? A lowly 1-6, and it’s actually a 1-4 mark since 2016.

The rat poison is coming Alabama’s way once again. Rat poison is coming Ohio State’s way, too.

The only difference? The yummy kind is heading to Columbus.