Alabama Crimson Tide
Head Coach: Nick Saban
2013-14 Record: 11-2, 7-1 SEC
2013-14 Bowl Result: 45-31 Loss to Oklahoma in Sugar Bowl
Odds to Win National Championship: +667
Offense: 7, Defense: 5
Alabama will start only its fourth different quarterback in the Saban era when kicking off the season against the West Virginia Mountaineers on Aug. 30. The Crimson Tide are expected to go with Florida State transfer Jacob Coker at the position, considering no true freshman has ever taken a snap under Saban.
The strength of the offensive unit will be at running back, with junior TJ Yeldon leading the way—coming off a 1,279-yard season. He’ll be backed up by Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry.
Other than Coker, the biggest question mark may be the team’s offensive line, but the group is more experienced at this point of the season than a year ago.
Replacing NFL draftee CJ Mosley is no small task, but No. 3 tackler Trey DePriest returns to pace the group, while safety Landon Collins is known for playing near the line of scrimmage.
Alabama’s defensive line will need to be pass rush-oriented in the early going, as the secondary is inexperienced with Collins being the only impact player to return to the fold.
The field goal unit has been subpar for years now—clearly evident in the Crimson Tide’s loss to the Auburn Tigers to end the regular season.
Four-year starting punter Cody Mandell will be missed, as he increased his net average every year since landing in Tuscaloosa.
Saban will likely start the season with a 3-0 record heading into their Southeastern Conference opener against the Florida Gators, especially since they’ve compiled an 18-0 record at home versus non-conference opponents since suffering a loss to Louisiana Monroe in 2007.
College football handicappers are looking forward to the Crimson Tide going on the road against the Mississippi Rebels on Oct. 4, but they’ve also won 10 straight games in that series.
Expect an all-out effort versus in-state rival Auburn in the final game of the season, as its loss in last year’s series edition cost the program a chance at reaching the SEC Championship and national title game.
Surprisingly, Alabama is a bit of a dark horse this season, as it won’t be sent out as the top-ranked team in the country.
A strong defense and one of the best backfield in the country make this a team to be reckoned with if it finds consistent play at the quarterback position.
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