The Alabama Crimson Tide are coming off yet another National Championship. Their third in the last five years and fourth under head coach Nick Saban.
Alabama earned at least a share of the SEC West title for a fourth straight year, but needed some help to do so. An early 37-43 loss at home to Ole Miss had the Tide needing some help.
If it wasn’t for the Rebels crazy 52-53 OT loss at home to Arkansas, Alabama wouldn’t have won the West. As a result, likely would have been left out of the playoff pitcture.
The Crimson Tide took full advantage of the opportunity. First they defeated Florida 29-15 in the SEC title game. They then destroyed Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl 38-0.
Setting up a showdown against undefeated Clemson for all the marbles. Despite getting outgained 550 to 473, Alabama held on for a 45-40 win.
Saban enters his 10th year on the job looking to add to his legacy. If you take away his 7-6 record in his first year on the job in 2007, he’s a ridiculous 98-12 over the last 8 seasons. Only once during this stretch has Alabama lost more than 2 games in a single season (10-3 in 2010).
|Date||Opponent||Spread (Est.)||Win Chance|
|9/17||@ Ole Miss|
|Estimated Wins: TBD|
*We take the win chance by using the college football win percentage chart for each point spread.
While the schedule hasn’t really mattered over the years, the Tide face a difficult slate in 2016. It starts with a non-conference showdown in Arlington against USC. The Trojans may very well be the most talented team in the Pac-12.
That’s the only concern outside of the SEC. Their other 3 non-conference games are cupcakes against WKU, Kent State and Chattanooga.
As for the conference portion of the schedule, there’s plenty of reason to be concerned. Alabama has to go on the road to face Ole Miss, Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU. All 4 of those teams have given the Tides trouble over the last couple seasons.
There’s also two home games that could prove to be difficult. The first is against Texas A&M. The Aggies will be off a bye and Alabama will have just played at Tennessee. The other is the finale against in-state rival Auburn.
There’s few programs where you can look at the returning starters and it doesn’t matter. Alabama is at the top of the last. The Crimson Tide only had 10 starters back last year with just three on offense. All they did was go out and win it all.
There was major concern with how the offense would hold up in 2015. Alabama was off a record-breaking year in 2014, where they set a school-record with 485 ypg.
They had to replace their starting quarterback and star wideout Amari Cooper. It didn’t matter. Alabama barely regressed at all, averaging 35.1 ppg and 427 ypg (averaged 36.9 ppg in 2014).
They go into 2016 once again needing to find a new signal caller. The frontrunner is junior Cooper Batmen. Though true freshman Jalen Hurts and red-shirt freshman Blake Barnett are in the mix.
The most challenging thing for Alabama will be replacing the talent lost at running back. Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry and his 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns are in the NFL now. They also lost top backup Kenyan Drake. The Tide are loaded at the position but will be as inexperienced here as they have been under Saban.
The loss of Cooper was eased by the emergence of true freshman Calvin Ridley. He led the way with 89 receptions for 1,045 yards and 7 touchdowns. They also get back their other two top targets in wide out ArDarius Stewart and tight end O.J. Howard.
Alabama suffered a huge scare in the offseason on the offensive line. Star left tackle Cam Robinson’s future was in jeopardy after an arrest. Luckily all charges were dropped. He’s one of three starters back on what figures to be one of the best offensive lines in they country.
There are plenty of holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball. The list includes 4 starters who were taken in the 2nd round of the NFL draft.
The two biggest (literally) are nose tackle A’Shawn Robinson and defensive end Jerran Reed. The good news is fellow defensive end Jonathan Allen turned down the NFL. Alabama has an embarrasment of riches here and will not miss a beat.
The Crimson Tide lose All-American linebacker Reggie Ragland, but likely won’t miss him. That’s because Reuben Foster and Tim Williams both turned down the NFL. Alabama will once again have one of the best linebacking corps in the nation.
The secondary loses two key pieces in corner Cyrus Jones and free safety Geno Matias-Smith. Like the other two units, it doesn’t figure to matter. Alabama has one of the best safeties in the country in Eddie Jackson. As well as two stud sophomore corners in Marlon Humphrey and Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Regular Season Win Total
SEC West Odds
SEC Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
*Odds updated live on our college football odds page
It would be easy to just pencil in Alabama as the SEC West winner, but I’m going to go out on a limb here. I have the Crimson Tide going 6-2 in conference play and one game behind rival LSU for the top spot.
One thing I find interesting is Alabama’s future odds compared to their win total. The Crimson Tide are the odds on favorite to win the title this year at +750. Yet their regular season win total is just 9.5. A very low number given they have won 10 or more regular season games in 7 of the last 8 years.
I know they defended their title in 2012 after winning it all in 2011, but repeating is no easy task. At the same time, Alabama has a brutal conference schedule. With that said, I still have the Tide going 10-2 in 2016.
Win Total Prediction