Nick Saban and his Alabama Crimson Tide have rolled into Atlanta this weekend for their season opener against Virginia Tech with tremendous aspirations for 2013.
Alabama is going for what amounts to ‘unchartered territory’ as they go for their third straight national title and fourth in five years. I’ve looked over their schedule and their roster and I just don’t see how this team is not back in the BCS Championship game. The Tide has arguably their best offensive weapons under Saban. Quarterback A.J.McCarron is back and already has two national titles under his belt. Running back T.J. Yeldon returns after a 1,000 yard plus campaign and so does wide receiver Amari Cooper.
Defensively, the Crimson Tide is extremely deep and talented as always. This defense has shot at being one of the best under Saban and that’s saying a lot considering some of the great defenses that have already left there mark in Tuscaloosa.
The schedule is not as difficult as it could be for a team playing in the Southeastern Conference. Once they play the Hokies, the Tide has non-conference dates with Colorado State, Georgia State and Chattanooga. This is not exactly a murderer’s row of competition here so I see 4-0 in the non-conference schedule.
The conference schedule is about as weak as it gets with the only exception being a game at #7 Texas A&M on September 14th. This game has been circled by Saban since the Aggies and Johnny Manziel gave them their only loss of 2013 and it came at home. Saban has had the game playing on a loop in the Crimson Tide’s weight room and locker room and has had A&M stickers placed on many things inside the weight room as well.
Should the Tide get past the Aggies in College Station, the rest of the conference schedule has few if any scares. They have only three more road games following their second game at Texas A&M and those games are at Kentucky, at Mississippi State and at Auburn in the season finale.
Bama will get Arkansas, Ole Miss, Tennessee and LSU at home. Granted, LSU and Ole Miss could present problems for Alabama but let’s keep in mind too that they got the easiest draw from the East Division they probably could have. They have no Georgia, no South Carolina and no Florida on the schedule and that’s not something to dismiss.
If there is one area that concerns me it has to be the inexperience of the offensive line. Alabama saw Barrett Jones, D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack all get drafted into the National Football League this past April. Don’t cry for Saban and the Tide though because it isn’t like they are starting five freshmen along the line.
The current depth chart lists two seniors, a junior and two sophomores. All of which are already pro prospects by the way. Whenever you have a relatively new offensive line the best thing you can do for their confidence and ability is to run the football and that’s exactly what I see the Tide doing.
That gameplan fits the skill set of McCarron perfectly as well. Teams will be forced to bring extra guys into the box to stop the run and that’s when McCarron will strike down the field. That’s what makes Bama so difficult to deal with offensively.
Obviously I can’t account for injuries but based on past BCS rankings’ history, the Tide will need to lose two games to fall out of contention for the title game. Even then, depending upon the rest of the country, they might still be in it.
I just can’t see this team losing more than one game in 2013 and that should be more than enough for them to get back to the BCS Title game.