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