2013 Alabama Crimson Tide Preview

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

2013 Alabama Crimson Tide Season Preview

Coming off a pair of national titles, Alabama goes for number 3 in 2013 and if the sportsbooks have it right, they’re the clear favorite to rise to the top again. In 2012, they went 13-1–including a 42-14 blowout over Notre Dame in the BCS Championship. There were some bumps along the way, though.

After going to 9-0, Alabama was upset by Texas A&M, losing at home 29-24. The Aggies’ Johnny Manziel was 24-31 in the air and added 92 yards rushing. Against LSU the week before, Alabama needed a late touchdown to put away the Tigers 21-17. And lest we forget the SEC Title Game where they narrowly averted disaster after allowing Georgia to jet out to a 21-10 lead in the 3rd quarter.

This isn’t to point out Alabama’s weak points from last year. At the end of the day, they won the whole thing, so nit-picking doesn’t get us anywhere. It’s more to illustrate that there were only a small handful of plays that tipped fortunes into the favor of the Crimson Tide in 2012. Again, that doesn’t say much, being that all champions in any sport need a few things to go their way en route to glory.

Alabama is 3 to 1 to win the BCS Championship, with the next favorite listed at 13 to 2, making Alabama twice the favorite as the next-best team. Playing in the best conference in the sport, the SEC, Alabama has a little leash. They can pretty much lose a game and as long as it’s not the SEC title game, they should still get into the big game. Then again, with the weaker schedule this season, you never know. It’s a double-edged sword. The ease of their schedule helps obviously, as it’s easier to run the table, but it could also result in them not playing in the BCS if they do in fact slip up.

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Their schedule offers some clues and a lot will be answered right away. The Tide opens the season with road games–against Virginia Tech and then a big rematch against Texas A&M. If they can answer the call in games one and two, the next two months or so should be easy-breezy. But Virginia Tech is no joke and should be pouring everything into that game. And Texas A&M beat them last year, so a lot of questions will be answered right from the get-go.

After what appears to be winnable games (you never know) against Colorado State, Mississippi, Georgia State, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Tennessee, the Crimson Tide face LSU. That game will be huge and a lot of people are sleeping on LSU, who may surprise some this season. After a mismatch against Chatanooga, Alabama then plays in the SEC Title Game.

It’s hard to find 2 losses on that schedule for Alabama, even though they lost some key guys. Even if they trip up early and lose to A&M, unless A&M doesn’t lose all season, they should still have an inside track to the SEC title game. If they win that one, it’s a wrap. There are some question marks, but isn’t there always? And it also helps that they get A&M coming off a bye and when Saban has 2 weeks to prepare, it could be bad news this year for the Aggies.

Head coach Nick Saban and two-time champion quarterback AJ McCarron have certainly had their share of success, but don’t look for their hunger to dissipate. There is something about the disposition of those two men, as well as the whole team, that doesn’t ring of a possible letdown. That’s what allowed them to take 3 of the last 4 and 2 straight championships. If they were the type of squad to slack off in the face of huge success, that would have happened before now.

Offensively, they should be explosive. Losing their top back in Eddie Lacy isn’t a positive, but there is plenty of talent left, including TJ Yeldon, who averaged 6.3 yards per rush en route to 1108 yards last season. Wide receiver Amari Cooper is a big talent and should come back even stronger off a 1000-yard season. Stars litter the field for Alabama, including Consensus All-American LB CJ Mosley and a deep front line, featuring T Cyrus Kouandijo. Unless their mojo just completely falls off the table, Alabama will have a major say in this year’s championship picture.

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