Over/Under for Alabama Win Total in 2013: 12
For a program that has gone 61-7 over the last five years, it makes sense to set 12 as the number of wins that will serve as the barometer for the 2013 edition of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
That number is high in most places, but in Tuscaloosa, it may not be high enough.
Nick Saban’s club is expected to reload for a run at the Tide’s third consecutive BCS national championship, with a trip to Pasadena on the first weekend of 2014 being the ultimate goal.
The last time the Rose Bowl had the national title game, Saban’s 2009 squad capped a perfect 14-0 season by dismantling Texas and jump-starting the program’s remarkable run. It could take a similar effort this season to extend that run, and the Tide are well-equipped to handle that challenge.
However, would 12 wins be enough to get them into the BCS title game?
That could be a point of contention because the Tide have received the benefit of the doubt in making it to the title game the last two years, and voters could be leery of allowing them the same luxury should they lose again in the regular season.
That the Tide's schedule, at least on paper, does not appear to be as strong as it has been in recent years (h/t ESPN), also could hurt its chances..
After opening the season against powers Virginia Tech and Texas A&M in the first three weeks of the season (with a bye week in between), Alabama’s opponents in the final 10 games went a combined 50-71 last season. In that stretch, the Tide face off against five opponents who made a coaching change in the offseason.
While SEC teams usually benefit from the strength of their conference schedule, it’s hard to imagine the Tide losing one game with this slate and still earning a chance to play for another crystal football.
On the other hand, Alabama enters this season with a streak of being favored in 40 consecutive games, and that trend should continue this fall (h/t David Purdum, Sporting News). The Tide get bye weeks before the two toughest games (Sept. 14 at Texas A&M and a home date Nov. 9 against LSU). There are only four true road games, and the combined 2012 record of those opponents is 23-26.
If Saban’s club leaves College Station with a record of 2-0, watch out. An unbeaten regular season is a realistic possibility. Considering that Saban’s record in championship games is 8-1 (3-0 in BCS title games and 4-1 in SEC title games), his team has an excellent chance to cap off a 14-0 season if the scenario above unfolds.
With a mix of veterans (seven seniors are projected starters, including quarterback AJ McCarron) and a talented group of budding underclassmen, such as rising sophomore safety Landon Collins, Alabama has the necessary firepower to become the nation’s most dominant club.
Saban’s constant demand for improvement ensures that his team will be up to the challenge of taking every opponent’s best shot.
His process always focuses on the next challenge being the most important one. With that and the factors above in mind, take the over.