When you’re a defending national champion, you’re going to have a target on your back, so a team like Alabama is going to get opponents’ best shots week in and week out.

On Tuesday, Athlon Sports ranked every game on Alabama’s schedule, from easiest to toughest, and there are some big matchups on the list.

You can find how Athlon ranks all 12 games here, but below are the five most-difficult matchups facing the Crimson Tide this fall:

  1. vs. Auburn — Nov. 24
  2. at LSU — Nov. 3
  3. vs. Mississippi State — Nov. 10
  4. vs. Texas A&M — Sept. 22
  5. vs. Mizzou — Oct. 13

Outside of the Auburn game, all those games should be manageable for Nick Saban’s squad, but the Tide will be eager to avenge last year’s loss to the Tigers.

On the road to what could be another College Football Playoff appearance, the Tide will have to take care of business to earn a spot in the final four.