Since 2004, the SEC has been considered the leading conference in college football. Since Nick Saban’s arrival, the Alabama Crimson Tide have become the leader of the elite.
This year the Tide are looking for another run at the SEC title, and the way the schedule has set up there is a great chance that a repeat will come out of Tuscaloosa.
It isn’t enough for the Tide to have the most talented roster in the country after four years of No. 1 recruiting classes (247Sports). Now they have the easiest path to victory as well.
Just two years ago the Tide faced a gauntlet where the final six SEC opponents on the schedule had bye weeks before facing Alabama (via al.com). There were even talks of changes to the schedule to try and alleviate the severe disadvantage faced by the defending national champions.
It wasn’t a success then, but this year the Tide should be thanking the scheduling powers for the hand they were dealt. Here is a look at the Alabama Football schedule for 2013:
|Aug. 31||Virginia Tech Hokies||Atlanta, Ga.|
|Sept. 14||Texas A&M Aggies||College Station, Tx.|
|Sept. 28||Ole Miss Rebels||Tuscaloosa, Ala.|
|Oct. 5||Georgia State Panthers||Tuscaloosa, Ala.|
|Oct. 12||Kentucky Wildcats||Lexington, Ky.|
|Oct. 19||Arkansas Razorbacks||Tuscaloosa, Ala.|
|Oct. 26||Tennessee Volunteers||Tuscaloosa, Ala.|
|Nov. 9||LSU Tigers||Tuscaloosa, Ala.|
|Nov. 16||Mississippi State Bulldogs||Starkville, Miss.|
|Nov. 23||Chattanooga Mocs||Tuscaloosa, Ala.|
|Nov. 30||Auburn Tigers||Auburn, Ala.|
|Home Games in Bold|
Road trips to neutral sites are never easy, but Alabama has been very successful in season opening contests on the national stage under Nick Saban.
It started in 2008 when the Tide defeated Clemson in Atlanta. They then followed that up with wins in 2009 over Virginia Tech in Atlanta, and in 2012 over Michigan in Dallas.
The Tide are 3-0 in season opening games on neutral sites under Nick Saban, and will have the chance to continue the streak this season against a struggling Virginia Tech squad in Atlanta.
There is a Week 3 road trip to College Station against the Aggies that will be tough, but overall the schedule is very accommodating. The Iron Bowl caps the year off in Auburn, but the Tigers are rebuilding under first year head coach Gus Malzahn and are not expected to challenge for the SEC this season.
The toughest stretch of games for Alabama this season comes in late October and early November, when Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU come to Tuscaloosa.
LSU is expected to be a national leader again, but Arkansas and Tennessee are both ushering in new coaching staffs and are at least a year from being consistent winners.
Alabama gets the pleasure of dodging the big three from the SEC East this year—Florida, Georgia and South Carolina—as well as upstart Vanderbilt.
Vandy may be counting their blessings after the ‘Nicky Satan’ comments from James Franklin (via USA Today).
All signs are pointing to a dominant year for the Crimson Tide in the SEC West. The key wins will have to come against Texas A&M and LSU, but if those come, look for the Tide to be challenging for a third straight BCS title.
Stranger things have happened over the years in college football, and a season ending game against Auburn is always one to watch, but this appears to be a year tailor-made for the Tide to repeat as champions.