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1/7/2014 9:01:00 AM
We take an early look at the Alabama Crimson Tide football squad and preview what it will take to earn them another National Title. How will they be viewed in the eyes of the odds makers, and should bettors be willing to back them with their sports picks?
Winning the NCAA's Division-I level national championship in
football is going to require at least one more victory from this point forward,
and you can bet that Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide will be among the College Football odds favorites to be part of the new playoff scheme, if not win it all.
Not that such a prediction will shock many folks given the
rich history of Alabama
football and three BCS Championships in the last five seasons. The Crimson Tide were a chalky 4/5 on the college
football futures odds last summer to win their third consecutive BCS title, and
appeared in good shape to do just that when they stood 11-0 heading into the
season finale at Auburn.
The Tigers derailed those hopes with a stunning upset, and
that was followed by a defeat at the hands of Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. You have to go back to 2010 to find the last
time 'Bama dropped two or more games in the same season, and 2008 to find the
last time the Tide suffered back-to-back losses. Each of those campaigns was followed by a
Who Replaces AJ
That has to be the first question posed when thinking about
getting an NCAA football futures bet down on the Tide. McCarron guided the offense for three
straight seasons with amazing consistency, and replacing him at quarterback as
well as a leader isn't going to be easy.
The spotlight is going to be squarely on Blake Sims who has
served as McCarron's backup the past two years. The soon-to-be senior was a top QB recruit out of Georgia in '09,
redshirting in 2010 before serving as a reserve running back in 2011. He's not a prototypical pocket, pro-style
passer like McCarron, but it will be Sims' job to lose nonetheless.
Should Sims not pan out or get injured, there isn't a lot of
experience behind him; that doesn't mean there's not a lot of talent to fight
it out for No. 2 on the depth chart. The
battle appears to be between Alec Morris, a 2012 recruit, along with Cooper
Bateman and Luke Del Rio, both true freshmen this past season and both early
enrollees at Alabama
David Cornwell, the only QB recruit in the latest class to
commit to Alabama at this time, will enroll in
the spring semester, and is expected to redshirt in 2014.
Bolstered By Top-Rated Recruiting Class
McCarron isn't the only key starter to use up his
eligibility. Anthony Steen, a 3-year
starter on the offensive line, also won't be returning after an injury-plagued
senior season saw him miss the Sugar Bowl vs. Oklahoma due to shoulder surgery. Grant Hill, a true freshman in 2013, and
redshirt frosh Alphonse Taylor figure to vie for the starting left guard job.
On the defensive side, linebacker CJ Mosley's team-leading
108 tackles have to be replaced, along with 2-year starting end Ed
Stinson. Saban is also going to have to
plug both cornerback spots left vacant by the departures of Deion Belue and
He'll have plenty of sophomores and juniors from 2013 to
find fill-ins at those spots, and Saban also has what many believe to be the
top-rated 2014 recruiting class. Among
them are 5-star recruits Cameron Robinson (OT), Da'Shawn Hand (DE) and Tony
Brown (CB). The new freshman class might
even get better if 'Bama can convince DB Marlon Humphrey and DE Matt Elam to
'14 Schedule Nicely
Split In Thirds
No SEC schedule is easy, but Alabama's 2014 slate does look
favorable. It begins just like 2013 did
with a neutral site contest at the Georgia Dome, this time against the West
Virginia Mountaineers. The Tide then
return home for three straight, the last being their conference opener vs. the
Florida Gators before the first of two bye weeks.
October is travel month for 'Bama with games at Ole Miss, Arkansas and Tennessee. A home date vs. the Texas A&M Aggies
comes between the battles with the Razorbacks and Volunteers before Alabama takes the first
Saturday of November off.
Game 9 on the schedule is in Baton Rouge
against the LSU Tigers, always a big game, and that is followed by home dates
vs. Mississippi State,
Western Carolina and Auburn. Rest assured every Crimson Tide player and
coach has Nov. 29 against the Tigers circled on their calendars.
Keep checking back at SBR all spring and summer for
updates and previews for the 2014 college football season, as well as our free College Football picks