Coming off another national title for 2011, Nick Saban brings Alabama's Crimson Tide into this coming season with a seasoned junior quarterback, a senior kicker and a roster dominated by upperclassmen and loaded with depth.
With Arkansas breaking in a new offensive coordinator, and LSU trying to find a capable quarterback, it may be a good chance for the Tide to run through the SEC West without a blemish.
Losing Trent Richardson to the NFL draft would leave a gap on most college rosters, but Saban just continues to re-load at the running back position with Eddie Lacy waiting his turn.
Can the Tide run the table?
2011 Record: 11-2
New head coach Brady Hoke showed up in Ann Arbor and made the Wolverines respectable again in 2011. Coming off a Sugar Bowl victory over a solid Virginia Tech team gives Michigan a lot of momentum going into this coming season.
In what will certainly be an entertaining matchup, Michigan and Alabama fans will fill up the Jerry Dome and help kick off the 2012 college football season in grand fashion with a Top 25 matchup.
With a speedy and elusive Denard Robinson coming back for his senior season as well as a good number of veteran upperclassmen, Michigan will be a solid football team this year, but the Tide will be better.
Prediction: Win (1-0)
2011 Record: 7-5
Even with their best season since joining the Sun Belt Conference, and despite a second place league finish, the Hilltoppers were passed over for a bowl bid in 2011.
Western Kentucky had a solid team with a strong run game last season and the program seems to finally be rising from the muck, but the talent gap is too vast between the Sun Belt and the SEC.
WKU lost 42-9 last season to the LSU Tigers and 40-14 to Navy, but managed to give Kentucky a good scare in their season opener. Alabama is not Kentucky and the Hilltoppers don't have a prayer.
Prediction: Win (2-0)
2011 Record: 11-2
There's no question that in 2011, there was no better division in college football than the SEC West.
It may sound strange to say, but last season was a bad year to be good for the Razorbacks. Only two losses and at the end of the day there were no BCS slots open for the Hogs.
Arkansas is good, and will win a lot of football games in 2012, but Alabama put on a clinic in this game last season, and with questions on offense for the Razorbacks it might be similar to last season's outcome.
Tyler Wilson is coming back, but it's not going to be enough to take down the defending champs.
Prediction: Win (3-0)
2011 Record: 1-11
This game is really a win-win for the Tide. Alabama gets the strength of schedule of a FBS opponent and the competition is a few notches below a middle of the road Southern Conference or Ohio Valley team.
Not to beat up too badly on the Owls of FAU, but this is just a terrible football program in its current state and doesn't deserve too much discussion in regard to affecting Alabama's 2012 schedule.
Prediction: Win (4-0)
2011 Record: 2-10
In Houston during Nutt's final season as the head coach at Ole Miss, the Rebels were simply terrible.
Hugh Freeze is the right man for the job in Oxford and he'll have his high flying offense installed soon, but not soon enough to take down a solid Crimson Tide on the road in Tuscaloosa.
This could be a scrappy battle early on, but Alabama is too good for a first-year coach in the SEC.
Prediction: Win (5-0)
2011 Record: 8-5
Missouri had a lot of optimism going into the SEC East this year. A lot of that giddiness has been put on hold while quarterback James Franklin (no relation to the Vanderbilt head coach) recovers from shoulder surgery.
With a ton of stability in the Missouri program, and a healthy junior quarterback, the Tigers should do okay this season,but not well enough to beat a seasoned Nick Saban team.
The Tigers will struggle against a strong Tide defense.
Prediction: Win (6-0)
2011 Record: 5-7
Quarterback Tyler Bray returns for his junior season with the Volunteers and has a ton of weapons at receiver.
The Vols had some nice offensive showings against inferior opponents last year, but Vanderbilt took them to the wire and they lost an ugly game against a really bad Kentucky squad.
Look for a rout in this one that makes the Tide's 31 point victory in 2011 look like a close call.
Prediction: Win (7-0)
2011 Record: 7-6
The Bulldogs lost some tough games last season, and really only gave up a lot of points against Auburn and Arkansas, but had a pretty solid defense otherwise.
Junior Tyler Russell is the only veteran player at quarterback in a position that lacks depth in a violent Southeastern Conference.
The Dogs are still a world away from the talent and depth of the Crimson Tide.
Prediction: Win (8-0)
2011 Record: 13-1
There's no need to re-visit the epic matchups that 2011 brought us between these two teams. An all-SEC national title game left the Tigers speechless and the Tide on top of the world.
With Alabama returning a junior quarterback, and LSU still unsure who will be their man at that position, that detail may very well be the deciding factor in this game.
In what will probably still be a three team division, with Arkansas looking to get closer to the top, this game could once again decide the SEC West.
Prediction: Win (9-0)
2011 Record: 7-6
Texas A&M makes its SEC debut this season, and the fans will be pumped.
With a new head coach in Kevin Sumlin, and a lot of youth at the quarterback position, the Aggies will be no match for Alabama's defensive front.
TAMU will do as well as can be expected in their new home, but the SEC West will be a tough row to hoe this particular season.
Prediction: Win (10-0)
2011 Record: 1-10
The Catamounts only played one FBS opponent last season and got absolutely dismantled by the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in their first of ten losses on the year.
2012 Alabama will be more than a few notches above last year's Tech squad, and this late season matchup could get absolutely ugly by halftime, but will be an excellent chance to tune up before the Iron Bowl.
The Tide struggled early with Georgia Southern late last season, but the Eagles were a good team and this Western Carolina squad just isn't.
Prediction: Win (11-0)
2011 Record: 8-5
Last year's Auburn team wasn't terrible, but when the Tigers lost, they lost big.
The Iron Bowl got a little out of hand and the Tide beat Auburn worse than Georgia Southern the week before.
Auburn's new defensive chief, Brian VanGorder, will have his squad as ready as is possible, but it may be another couple of years before the Tigers can compete with Alabama's depth.
Besides a new coordinator in defense, Auburn also breaks in a new offensive guru in Scot Loeffler. Too many unknowns for the Tigers.
Prediction: Win (12-0)