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CRYSTAL BALL: Is complacency Alabama’s toughest opponent?

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Will anyone slow down Alabama’s reign at the top? Can Florida shake off preseason disrespect to challenge for the East? So begins @MrPalmettoSDS’s two-week, daily series with a look into the crystal ball on how each of the Southeastern Conference’s 14 programs will finish this season.

AT A GLANCE

Aug. 2: Kentucky
Aug. 3: Auburn
Aug. 4: Tennessee
Aug. 5: Mississippi State
Aug. 6: Mizzou
Aug. 7: Ole Miss
Aug. 8: Vandy
Aug. 9: Arkansas
Aug. 10: Florida
Aug. 11: LSU
Aug. 12: South Carolina
Aug. 13: Texas A&M
Aug. 14: Georgia
Aug. 15: Alabama

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (13-1, 7-1 (BCS Champion) in 2012)

THE 2013 BATTLEFIELD

Related: Where’s Alabama vulnerable in 2013?

Aug. 31 vs. Virginia Tech (W) = Outside of quarterback Logan Thomas, the Hokies don’t have a playmaker on that side of the football. That doesn’t end well against an attacking defensive unit that gave up the fewest per game on average — 10.9 — in the nation last season.

Sept. 14 at Texas A&M (W) = Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have an additional week to prepare for Johnny Manziel and the Aggie offense, but most importantly, are anxious to shake last season’s home loss to A&M. Although it’s only Week 3, a win here puts Alabama in the driver’s seat toward another crystal football.

Sept. 21 vs. Colorado St. (W) = This escalated quickly. The Rams won’t be able to hang and here’s a bold prediction: Colorado St. manages less than 10 first downs for the game.

Sept. 28 vs. Ole Miss (W) = Could this be Alabama’s third toughest game on this season’s schedule after Texas A&M and LSU? Bo Wallace likes to think so and the Rebels could give the Crimson Tide a battle if they can lesson the impact and big-play potential of T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper. Easier said than done, however.

Oct. 5 vs. Georgia St. (W) = Georgia St.’s new uniforms will get dirty quickly in Tuscaloosa.

Oct. 12 at Kentucky (W) = Imagine “Alabama Week” at Kentucky and the hoopla that goes along with hosting an unbeaten No. 1 in Lexington. Mark Stoops and the Wildcats don’t have the talent nor the depth to seriously have a shot at a home upset.

Oct. 19 vs. Arkansas (W) = Bret Bielema’s signature win in his first season doesn’t come this week. The Razorbacks are hoping this year’s contest isn’t a 52-point beatdown.

Oct. 26 vs. Tennessee (W) = If the game was in Knoxville, it would worth tuning in.

Nov. 9 vs. LSU (W) = Remember A.J. McCarron’s final drive heroics during last season’s classic? LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger would have to match that on the road for the Tigers to come out victorious.

Nov. 16 at Miss. St. (W) = Alabama begins its three-week ‘post-LSU’ schedule before playing in the SEC Championship Game. It must be difficult for Saban and his crew getting guys to avoid looking ahead as heavy favorites the rest of the way.

Nov. 23 vs. Chattanooga (W) = Senior Day will be special, but Alabama’s veterans won’t play past the first half.

Nov. 30 at Auburn (W) = Sure, national outlets can hype the 2013 Iron Bowl as Auburn’s chance at spoiling Alabama’s season, but we all know that’s not happening.

PROJECTED FINISH: 12-0, 8-0 (1st in West, SEC Champion)

Related: From a former Auburn player - Bama will win it again

THE SKINNY: What do you get when you combine a juggernaut program with a favorable schedule by SEC standards? A third consecutive national championship and another notch in Alabama’s impressive BCS dynasty. In turn, McCarron has to be in the conversation for the SEC’s best signal caller in league history with another ring. He’s a dark horse Heisman candidate as well since his numbers will be gaudy and Alabama will be at the top of the rankings among other BCS hopefuls all season long. Saban worries about his team getting complacent. Who gets tired of winning? The SEC’s eighth consecutive national championship once again rolls through Alabama.

Photo Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports





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Comments 8

  1. no, the challenge for AL is obvious. They can be outscored, or a team can compensate by using a scheme with their biggest most mobile players as middle linebackers to slow down the middle running attack. That’s it. They are good at what they do but they are not going undefeated or winning every game by impossible margins. When trying to duplicate a system every year it is inevitable that the scheme will be executed better by some teams than others, this is not always complacency.

    • Jweab
      Commented : 8 months ago

      You can’t just put players who don’t normally play a position as a middle linebacker based on their physical attributes for one game. That doesn’t make any sense. It’s much more than “I see RB with ball I will tackle RB with ball”

      • no debate about that, these big mobile players either have to have hs experience as linebackers or be taught the scheme in college. Thanks for reading my comment and adding better detail, it did read like instant position reassignment.

    • If it’s that easy why aren’t you a head coach??

  2. I think everyone recognizes the two big games for Alabama this year, A&M and LSU. The key for success, outside of those two opponents, will be playing consistent against the not-so-good teams. Nick Saban usually does a fine job of having his players prepared every Saturday, but Alabama has not played this light of a schedule in a long time. Focus will need to be a priority. Due to their recent spotlight, I don’t think Alabama will overlook Ole Miss. Auburn and Tennessee are big rival games, and I think the focus level will be fine there as well. What will be interesting is how this light of a schedule prepares them for a tough matchup in Atlanta.

    • but do you think that these common opponents have a better idea now than they ever have about how to be ahead at the end of 4 quarters? I think that’s what we were seeing with aTm, and GA. In the case of LSU i think it was trying to use a better scheme to counter AL’s but not having the players to do it yet.

  3. Alabama is a great team, with a great rivalry with LSU called: The Saban Bowl. However, seeing that having a great game against them can generate more individual attention than riding their bench, players like Jadaveon Clowney, Robert Nkemdiche, Kendall Beckwith and other top High School recruits know that the best option is to go to any other SEC school in order to demonstrate their reluctance to be the next: Landon Collins, riding the bench and getting beat-down and injured on the scout-team before showing their NFL potential. Once a player is ‘offered’ by Alabama, they know that its better to be seen by the NFL scouts, and be loved in their own State than to have the rest of the team, or the Coach take the credit for their talent. LSU is the best example of this, where the family-value oriented Fan-Base is tops in the NCAA. Players want to be loved, not to be overlooked and disrespected. Beating Alabama is better than being Alabama, which is why the whole SEC has constantly become more competitive. However, at the end of the year, whoever wins-out gains the support of the rest of the conference, which is why all of us in the SEC show great sportsmanship, when on TV, by yelling: S-E-C / S-E-C..! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/06/landon-collins-alabama-mom-disagrees-lsu-video_n_1189316.html

  4. chattanooga?? seriously? and i thought A&M’s schedule was light!

    and just because Bama is anxious and have an additional week to prepare for Johnny Football doesnt mean they will be ready for the Aggie offense – it isnt going to be what youre prepared for – they will attack Bamas weaknesses (the secondary) – no huddle stretch the field passing attack isnt something that the Tide will be ready to defend – Gig Em! and BTHO Bama!~ Whooppp!!!