Dont'a Hightower

Alabama gets the nod as nation’s second-best team

The Tide is not ranked No. 2, but would be favored over Oklahoma State and Stanford.
<p> Alabama edges Oklahoma State and Stanford&nbsp;as nation’s second-best team.</p>

More Stories:

Athlon Awards: Linebacker Units

Vontaze Burfict leads one of the Pac-12's best defenses at Arizona State.
<p> Athlon Sports ranks the best linebacker units in college football for 2011.</p>

They're the teams within the team - those cohesive little units bound together by their shared responsibilities within the larger team context.

Whether it's the offensive linemen firing off time after time into those familiar blocking sleds, or the defensive linemen drilling repeatedly on how to shed blockers, or the defensive backs breaking on ball after ball - these teams in miniature hone their tasks on the practice field until those tasks become second nature.