SDS Crystal Ball: Predicting every Alabama game for 2016
Coming off a fourth national championship in seven years, Alabama is an annual threat to win another ring.
Entering his 10th season with the Crimson Tide, coach Nick Saban doesn’t appear to be going anywhere and has built this team to be dominant with ridiculous recruiting. His program is the envy of everyone else’s.
On offense, the quarterback position is yet to be determined and Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry leaves a freight train-sized void in the backfield. Defensively, Saban has a depth chart full of four- and five-star kids at every position. Jeremy Pruitt takes over for Kirby Smart as DC.
Saban has proven time and again that he doesn’t need elite play under center to mow down the rest of the SEC. The faces may change, but ‘Bama always runs the ball well and defends the run in brick-wall fashion.
A fifth ring would put Saban just one behind Bear Bryant in less than half the service time with the Tide.
ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
SDS 2015 projection: 11-1 (7-1)
Actual record: 11-1* (7-1)
* doesn’t include postseason
Predicting every game in 2016:
Sept. 3 vs. USC* (W): Starting the campaign in Jerry World for the second year in a row, Alabama overpowers a Trojans team still too far removed from its dynastic past.
Sept. 10 vs. Western Kentucky (W): The first of three cupcakes, expect the Crimson Tide’s second- and third-teamers to get plenty of action in the home opener.
Sept. 17 at Ole Miss (W): The Rebels have beaten ‘Bama in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history, so three in a row doesn’t seem very likely.
Sept. 24 vs. Kent State (W): The Tide don’t have many quality matchups at home in 2016, and this is another one that promises to have plenty of empty seats in the second half.
Oct. 1 vs. Kentucky (W): While the Wildcats have stockpiled more talent under coach Mark Stoops, drawing Alabama out of the West on the road is a tall order.
Oct. 8 at Arkansas (W): If Brandon Allen had one more year of eligibility remaining instead of making way for his younger brother, this might be an upset special.
Oct. 15 at Tennessee (L): The Volunteers are the team to beat in the East this season and could have topped the Crimson Tide last year, so it’s breakthrough time in Knoxville.
Oct. 22 vs. Texas A&M (W): Aggies quarterback Trevor Knight beat ‘Bama once when he played for Oklahoma, but that was a long time ago.
Nov. 5 at LSU (W): Whatever the Tide did a year ago to slow down Leonard Fournette, they put together a similar performance and continue to madden the Mad Hatter.
Nov. 12 vs. Mississippi State (W): Nobody knows what to expect from the Bulldogs post-Dak Prescott, although few are predicting a David-slays-Goliath road victory over Alabama.
Nov. 19 vs. Chattanooga (W): The last in a series of cupcakes for the Crimson Tide, this is nothing more than a glorified scrimmage ahead of the following week’s Iron Bowl.
Nov. 26 vs. Auburn (W): The Tigers have taken down ‘Bama on the way to two SEC title games this decade, but both of those wins required an against-all-odds finish.
* in Arlington, Texas
SDS 2016 projection: 11-1 (7-1)
SEC race: 1st in the West
The Skinny: So long as Saban owns real estate in Tuscaloosa, I’m picking the Tide to win the SEC West every year going forward. There’s just no reason to go out on a limb at this point and roll with one of the six other teams in the division. Expect Atlanta to have a crimson tint again by December.