Alabama returns 11 starters (like it really matters with their recruiting pipeline) from the 2016 team that came up just short of the school's 17th National Championship....or was it just short of the school's 13th National Championship? Or 10th? Or was it actually their 20th? It really depends on who you ask, but I digress.
There is no confusion that Nick Saban, 119-19 during his tenure at Alabama, will be gunning for his sixth career ring. Saban was tasked with finding a new Offensive Coordinator this offseason after Steve Sarkisian left to take the same position for the Atlanta Falcons. Enter Brian Daboll, former New England Patriots TE Coach, who was part of Saban's staff at Michigan State in the late 90's, but does not actually have any play calling experience. He will implement a pro-style passing attack for Jalen Hurts which might not be an ideal fit so keep tabs on incoming freshman Tua Tagovailoa, who should see action as early as Fresno State and Colorado State in Tide blowouts regardless of Hurts' performance.
It will be intriguing to watch the development of Hurts in his second year under Saban in a new system and interesting to see which young Alabama wideouts step up to help Calvin Ridley, but this is a dominant run first offense led by the three headed backfield monster of Bo Scarbrough, Damien Hurts and Najee Harris. Scarbrough is a legitimate Heisman contender that might be worth the investment at 20/1 especially if you think Alabama goes undefeated.
Alabama had the number 1 scoring defense in the country last season and will have the luxury of returning 3 productive starters in the secondary led by Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. However, they did lose 6 starters from a front 7 that led a historically dominant defense that only allowed an absurd 64 yards per game rushing while also leading the country in sacks. How dominant was this group? Those 6 starters were all taken in the first 3 rounds of the NFL draft. Priority number 1 will be on the defensive line as replacing Jonathan Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson is no easy task.
Expected Win Totals
CW Projected Total Wins: 11.3
CW Projected SEC Wins: 7.7
Posted Total Wins: O 11 +105
Home Field Advantage: 3.6
Opening Power Rating: 78
|Sep 2||Alabama||Florida St.||FSU +5.5|
|Sep 9||Fresno St.||Alabama||BAMA -46|
|Sep 16||Colorado St.||Alabama||BAMA -31|
|Sep 23||Alabama||Vanderbilt||VAN +22.5|
|Sep 30||Ole Miss||Alabama||BAMA -32|
|Oct 7||Alabama||Texas A&M||TA&M +21|
|Oct 14||Arkansas||Alabama||BAMA -28|
|Oct 21||Tennessee||Alabama||BAMA -22.5|
|Nov 4||LSU||Alabama||BAMA -16.5|
|Nov 11||Alabama||Mississippi St.||MSST +24.5|
|Nov 18||Mercer||Alabama||BAMA -58|
|Nov 25||Alabama||Auburn||AUB +11|
|Legend: Coming off bye / Overlook watch / Back to Back road travel / Neutral site|
5Dimes is currently offering Alabama -160 to win the SEC. They do have a very favorable schedule in between the first and last game of the season. Even if they lose week 1 to Florida State, they should still be in a good spot to get to the College Football Playoff, but it could make that game at Auburn a lot more interesting. On a related note, that Auburn game should honestly be the only game in SEC play where Alabama is not a double digit favorite. The Iron Bowl Game of the Year has been listed anywhere from Alabama -4 to -7.5.
I don't see much value on any Alabama futures so I am going to shift my focus to week 1. With a new Offensive Coordinator and some key replacements up front on defense, Alabama will be most vulnerable early on in the season and I like how Florida State matches up week 1. You can currently find Florida State +7.5 -115 at 5Dimes even though most shops in Vegas and offshore are offering FSU +7 -110. After checking numerous sets of Power Ratings, I cannot find any that project this game over a touchdown. Commonly used Power Ratings make this anywhere from 4 to 6.5. Florida State's will have the best defense that Alabama sees all year and I fully expect the elite Seminoles secondary to create havoc for Hurts and the new pieces at wide receiver.
Alabama has won at least 11 games each of the last 6 seasons and have qualified for the College Football Playoff in all 3 years since inauguration.
There are plenty of interesting Alabama season long props including...
- Will Alabama make the College Football Playoff? Yes -190
- Will Alabama make the Championship Game? Yes -120
- Will "Alabama lose any game by 10+ points? Yes +325
JK Scott (P) - Don't sleep on the impact of having an elite punter especially in close games. Scott, a member of the 2017 Ray Guy Watch List, can flip the momentum of a game with his foot.
Jerry Jeudy (WR) - Calvin Ridley is back at wide receiver to hold down the number 1 spot. However, with the offseason departures of OJ Howard and Ardarius Stewart, Alabama will be looking to see who else can step up at wide receiver. Jerry Jeudy, a five star recruit, has all of the tools to be the next freshman breakout wide receiver at Alabama.
Roll Tide is 4-0 to the Under in their last 4 games after a bye which will be applicable on November 4th at home against LSU
Surprisingly, Alabama is 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games after a SU loss
It all goes right if…
Brian Daboll can get Hurts to make plays between the tackles in the passing game. If Hurts shows progress in the passing game in his second year, Scarbrough will lead this elite stable of backs and always reliable Tide defense to an undefeated season. If not, Alabama may be forced into relying on a true freshman under center (again).
It all goes wrong if…
Alabama doesn't win the National Title. That is seriously the mindset in Tuscaloosa which speaks volumes about the job Saban has done. One actual dynamic to keep your eye on is the relationship between Saban and Daboll. If Nick loses confidence in the scheme early on in the season, you could see sideline tension similar to what happened with Kiffin in 2016.
- Florida State +7.5 Week 1
For more, check out the full SEC Conference Preview.