Alabama enters 2013 as the heavy favorite to win the national championship. The Crimson Tide has claimed back-to-back titles and has a favorable path to a third in a row.
The roster is loaded with talent, starting at quarterback with AJ McCarron, along with All-American skill players in running back T.J. Yeldon and receiver Amari Cooper. The offensive line has a few holes to fill, but Alabama’s top-notch recruiting should ensure there’s not too much of a drop up front.
The defense returns eight starters from a unit that ranked No. 1 nationally in scoring, total, rushing and pass defense. The Crimson Tide needs to find a few replacements on the defensive line and for cornerback Dee Milliner. But the linebackers are one of the top units in the nation, and the secondary is solid with young talent ready to step into the lineup.
The regular season schedule is favorable outside of a date at Texas A&M. Assuming the Crimson Tide beats the Aggies, Alabama’s toughest obstacle to a national championship could be the conference title game against Georgia, South Carolina or Florida.
What will Alabama's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates:
Alabama's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
8/31 Virginia Tech (Atlanta)
9/14 at Texas A&M
9/21 Colorado State
9/28 Ole Miss
10/5 Georgia State
10/12 at Kentucky
11/16 at Mississippi State
11/30 at Auburn
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Sure, Alabama has a few holes to fill, but this is still the best team in college football. And the Crimson Tide’s roster is even deeper thanks to the addition of another elite recruiting class. Quarterback AJ McCarron, running back T.J. Yeldon and receiver Amari Cooper form one of the top offensive trios in the nation, and the defense will always be strong under coach Nick Saban and coordinator Kirby Smart. The offensive line is the team’s biggest question mark, especially with the departure of Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker. On defense, cornerback Dee Milliner will be tough to replace. However, cornerback Geno Smith and safety Landon Collins are two breakout players to watch in 2013. Outside of the Sept. 14 date against Texas A&M, it’s hard to find a place for a loss on Alabama’s schedule. Finishing a regular season without a loss isn’t easy, but I’ll take Alabama to finish unbeaten and play for the championship in Pasadena in early January.
There's no reason to be cute about this. Unless AJ McCarron goes down to a season-ending injury or Alabama just completely implodes, the Crimson Tide should be in the driver's seat to finish off the BCS era as a three-time national champion. The two games that figure to cause 'Bama the most trouble in the regular season are at Texas A&M and against LSU. Well, anyone who remotely follows college football is well aware of how Johnny Manziel's summer has gone, while the Tide gets the Bayou Bengals in Tuscaloosa. I'm not saying the Aggies or Tigers aren't capable of scoring the upset, it just seems Nick Saban's team is getting all the early breaks. So barring a bad break (or two) during one of these games or to one of Saban's key players, Alabama should, ahem, roll to an undefeated regular season.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Want to give yourself nightmares? That is, if you root for anyone other than the Crimson Tide? Nick Saban has won back-to-back national championships and three of the last four and 2013 will be his best team. Is that scary enough for you? This offense, despite the loss of some solid talent up front along the line, will be more complete, more dynamic and more explosive than any in Saban's coaching tenure. The linebackers are downright nasty with upwards of half-a-dozen future NFL players. He has the best safety in the nation, a defensive line loaded with overachievers and the best collection of freshmen on any campus in the country. To top it all off, Alabama misses South Carolina, Georgia and Florida in crossover play and the LSU game comes at home. The much anticipated visit to College Station following a bye week on September 14 looms large, but Alabama's schedule isn't nearly as daunting as a defending SEC champs should be. The Ole Misses and Auburns of the world won't come close to challenging Alabama's dominance. Roll. Damn. Tide.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Not that Alabama needs much help, but this is an easy schedule by SEC standards. Who is Alabama’s toughest opponent in the month of October? Tennessee? Arkansas? And both of those games are at home. And remember the 2010 season when just about every team had an off week before facing the Tide? Alabama now gets the advantage as it gets its toughest opponents, Texas A&M and LSU, after bye weeks. Alabama never has back-to-back games against top-notch teams unless Mississippi State, who plays host to Alabama the week after the LSU game, takes the next step. The Tide are already the top team in the country, but something would have to go wrong against that schedule for Alabama to go 11-1.
Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
It’s hard to imagine Alabama’s schedule being any more favorable. Two opponents stand out as true tests for the Crimson Tide – Texas A&M and LSU. And Alabama will have a week off before it plays each of those teams. Ole Miss played Alabama tough last year, but it’s unrealistic to expect the Crimson Tide to lose at home to the Rebels. Other teams like Virginia Tech, Tennessee and Auburn just don’t have enough talent to match up with Alabama. The Crimson Tide will return to the SEC Championship Game as long as their offensive line develops and the players stay hungry to win another title.
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