The past 2 months of Alabama football have been equal parts breathless, breathtaking and heartbreaking.

There has rarely been a dull moment, that’s for sure.

On the past 8 Saturdays, the Crimson Tide have wowed their fans with excellence and made them wonder what they were thinking. They’ve carved up their opponents, which they’ve been known to do, and gotten carved up themselves, which they don’t usually let happen.

There have already been 2 wild, escape-act victories, in Week 2 at Texas when Bryce Young willed the Tide to victory and in Week 6 at home against Texas A&M when his backup, Jalen Milroe, overcame his own litany of errors while Young watched like a proud father from the sideline.

Bama fans gasped when Bryce went down, their absolute worst nightmare come true, the week before at Arkansas.

They stood aghast as the floods of flags showered the field in Austin, and then in Fayetteville and yet again in Knoxville, the latter of which led to the Crimson Tide’s apocalyptic loss at Tennessee that has made the final 4-game sprint to the finish line a tightrope walk with absolutely 0 margin for error.

They stood proudly when Milroe, the muscular, unpolished freshman quarterback, took a deep breath and came in for the injured Young in Fayetteville, and then took off on that 77-yard sprint when it looked like a 28-0 lead was going to completely evaporate.

They saw the all-world Will Anderson Jr., the guy who has seemingly done it all, do something for the 1st time when he returned an interception for a touchdown in the destruction of Louisiana-Monroe in Week 3.

They’ve seen 1 prized transfer — Jermaine Burton — struggle mightily and the other prized transfer — Jahmyr Gibbs — become the engine of the Alabama offense.

They’ve seen too many turnovers and not nearly enough turnovers forced.

And in seemingly the snap of a finger, they’ve seen two-thirds of the 2022 season evaporate into the Tuscaloosa sky with only 4 precious weeks/games remaining to make it all right so they can still book those hotel rooms for Atlanta because, well, it has become their early December drill.

They’ve seen it all these past 2 months and, just maybe, they haven’t seen anything yet. Because Bama is ranked 6th in both major polls, not No. 1, not in the top 3 or even the top 5, so there’s work to be done as the November stretch run comes calling after a much-needed bye week this week.

So after all that has already happened, how can we possibly predict what else is going to transpire as Saban’s 16th season in Tuscaloosa comes down that home stretch? Well, we can close our eyes and try to visualize those tough road games against LSU and Ole Miss, the breather against Austin Peay and the Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa, and beyond.

We can shake up that Bama Crystal Ball and give our 7 predictions for what might still lie ahead for the Tide in 2022.

1. Gibbs will go over 1,000 yards

The Georgia Tech transfer has been a godsend to Saban’s offense in a season when Young hasn’t been 2021 Young, and the wide receivers room has never totally gotten on the same page with Young. Gibbs has 672 yards rushing in 8 games, so he would need 328 yards over the final 4 to break the 1,000-yard barrier. We’ll say he gets to about 1,100 yards by the time the clock runs out at the Iron Bowl on Thanksgiving weekend, and by doing that his current 6.9 yard-per-carry clip will be well over 7 yards. If the Tide are going to survive trips to Baton Rouge and Oxford without suffering that dreaded 2nd loss, they’ll need to lean on Gibbs just as much as Young in the biggest moments.

2. Reichard will have the last laugh

Kicker Will Reichard hasn’t had a smooth senior season. Oh, he has had his moments, booming 3 field goals of 50-plus yards, including a 50-yarder on Saturday night against Mississippi State. He’s 12-of-16 on his field-goal attempts overall, and 2 of his 4 misses have come from 50-plus yards, so his stat line looks a tad worse than what it is. Still, he did miss very makeable kicks of 47 and 35 yards that would’ve put the Texas A&M game away and instead left the door open, but I digress. When it gets tight after the bye week at LSU and/or Ole Miss, Reichard will step up and shine, and he just might boot Bama back into the SEC West penthouse with a return ticket to Atlanta. Never underestimate the resilience of a senior kicker, and Saban hasn’t lost one bit of trust in Reichard this fall amid his struggles.

3. Burton won’t be quiet forever

Burton has had a heck of a first fall in Tuscaloosa after transferring from Georgia, between his curious and frustrating lack of production and now the off-field controversy involving a woman he allegedly struck when she was rushing the field after Tennessee toppled Bama. Whatever, Saban decided not to suspend Burton and that will be that, it’s in the past now. But what’s still very clear to see is Burton has 20 catches in 8 games, which is simply unacceptable. So are his 3 touchdown catches, with 2 of them coming in Week 1. So we’re going to go out on a limb and say that Burton will say enough is enough and come up with a very important catch, maybe not a touchdown, in either the LSU or Ole Miss game. He’s a national champion from 2021, and he’s just too talented to stay this quiet all season without a signature moment.

4. Milroe will be needed again

This premonition doesn’t mean we think Young will go down again, at least not for more than 1-2 series. But as committed as Young has been to his rehab from his sprained shoulder and as solid as he has played since returning, he’s still not totally 100 percent, and at some unfortunate point down the stretch Saban will need to call on Milroe to take the reins for a drive or 2 while Young gets checked out. It’ll all be fine, because Milroe will be ready for the moment, like he mostly was when Young went down originally on Oct. 1. Young will return from getting nicked up and be fine, but this situation is bound to happen once or even twice over the last 4 games. All parties will be prepared for it.

5. Saban vs. Kelly will be must-see TV

After the bye, we’ll get the delicious 1st SEC serving of Saban vs. Brian Kelly when the Tide visit the Tigers in Baton Rouge on Nov. 5. Saban denied Kelly’s Notre Dame teams twice when the Fighting Irish got to the precipice of a title, as Bama beat ND in the 2012 national title game and then in the 2020 College Football Playoff semifinals. So the 2 headliner coaches are very familiar with each other even though this is Kelly’s 1st foray into Saban’s SEC domain. No matter. They’re old adversaries who will now get an up-close look at each other every season, in even years at Tiger Stadium and in odd years at Bryant-Denny Stadium. In about 2 weeks, we’ll get that 1st serving. And with LSU storming back into the Top 25 this week and feeling good about itself again, the Tide-Tigers rivalry will be brimming with fire once again.

6. Anderson will pile the sacks on

He has “only” 6 sacks in the first 8 games, but it seems like way, way more because of all those quarterback hurries. But Anderson always seems to smell the big games ahead, and those biggies are immediately following the bye week at LSU and Ole Miss. They are got-to-have-it games, and Anderson will get to double-digit sacks for the season with big performances in Baton Rouge and Oxford. He’ll also snag a few more sacks against overmatched Austin Peay, so Anderson might even double his current sack total by regular season’s end. Anderson won’t approach the out-of-this-world 17.5 sacks he had in 2021. But 11 or 12 in 2022 with the amount of attention he receives won’t be half-bad, either.

7. Bama will find its way to Atlanta, barely

In a lot of other years, we wouldn’t be going out on any limb by saying this. OK, so Alabama is heading back to Atlanta again, so what? Well, this year, predicting this is actually taking a little leap of faith, because there’s already that 1 SEC loss at Tennessee weighing the Tide down, and then after the bye there are those back-to-back big tests at LSU and Ole Miss. The Tide, not exactly world-beaters in big road spots the past few years and fraught with penalties and mistakes in a lot of those road tests, will be pushed to the limit into November by Kelly and Lane Kiffin to make sure there’s a new SEC West team representing the division in Atlanta. Well, when it’s all said and done and the numbers come in, we think Bama will have just enough to survive the back-to-back Saturdays against ranked foes before finishing things off against Austin Peay and Auburn. They’ll be a flawed 11-1 team that’s still very capable of winning it all.