The Alabama Crimson Tide have a major question mark under center, but there’s plenty of optimism on campus that the proud program will return to the national spotlight in 2014-15.
Nick Saban begins his eighth season in Tuscaloosa, which can’t start soon enough in trying to erase the memory of back-to-back losses to the Auburn Tigers and Oklahoma Sooners a year ago.
The Crimson Tide are loaded with talent at every position due to Saban’s recruiting prowess, as he’s landed the top class in the country in each of the last three years, which allows him to replace NFL-quality players every year.
College football handicappers will have a major interest in going above 10.5 (Over -127, Under +109) regular season wins for this squad at Pinnacle Sports, as he’s compiled a 72-9 record in the last six campaigns.
Media is Searching for a Signal-Caller
It’s important to point out that three of the last four teams to win the national title had first-year signal-callers, which is why Alabama isn’t stressing about its situation, but the local media can’t cover the story enough.
AJ McCarron was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals during the offseason, while it’s also important to point out that no true freshman has ever taken a snap in the Saban era, which points to either Jake Coker or Blake Sims winning the job.
Coker is certainly the frontrunner to run the offense under new coordinator Lane Kiffin, and he’ll have plenty of weapons at his disposal. Many college football experts believe that the Crimson Tide have the best backfield in the country and a tremendous perimeter target in wide receiver Amari Cooper.
The Crimson Tide have built a reputation of being the best defensive program in the country since Saban’s arrival, but they’ve struggled at times to stop no-huddle attacks—clearly evident in facing seven such opponents in 2013-14.
Alabama features at least one returning starter on each level, with the main player to watch being safety Landon Collins, who was a semifinalist for the 2013 Jim Thorpe Award by recording 70 tackles and two interceptions.
Advantageous Bye Weeks
Alabama will likely be favored by 24 or more points on the college football odds page in their first three games—leading directly to a 3-0 record heading into its Southeastern Conference opener against the Florida Gators.
The Crimson Tide have won 22 consecutive SEC lid lifters, which sets up nicely for the program to enjoy its first bye week before hitting the road for the first time against the Mississippi Rebels on Oct. 4.
Saban & Co. also benefit in having two weeks to prepare for a trip to take on the LSU Tigers in Death Valley—a matchup that has often determined the best team in the country.
Finally, it helps to gain Iron Bowl revenge by hosting the Auburn Tigers in the regular-season finale, as a 34-28 loss in last year’s edition ended any chance of playing for all the marbles.
I’m going to recommend that readers play 'over' 10.5 regular season wins for the Crimson Tide as one of their College Football picks, as they’ve previously won two titles with first year players under center in 2009 and 2011.