Alabama has won two titles in a row and looks to become the first ever to win three consecutive BCS National Championships in 2013 with what appears to be a friendly schedule.
For Nick Saban and Co., the season begins on Aug. 31 against the Virginia Tech Hokies. While SEC matchups loom large on the schedule and are contests the team will surely be prepared for, it is the trap games against teams like the Hokies that could end up dashing the quest for a third title.
Not many teams can be considered traps for the modern, once-thought-impossible dynasty that is Alabama, but there are a few games to keep a close eye on over the course of the season.
Virginia Tech at No. 1 Alabama (August 31 at Georgia Dome)
Week 1 actually presents the Crimson Tide with one of their biggest challenges of the year, on a neutral site against a team that annually has one of the toughest defenses in the land.
Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer, entering his 27th year, is known for defense, and last year the Hokies only surrendered 330 yards per game. That's a bit of a drop off from 2011, when the team only gave up 304 per contest, but the team is older and gelling now through a year of experience.
Something is going to have to give, because Alabama averaged 445 yards per game last season. Talented back T.J. Yeldon is returning, as is experienced quarterback A.J. McCarron.
One point of note is that Saban has not been thrilled with the new-look offensive line, per Andrew Gribble of AL.com. It's a work in progress after losing Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker to the NFL.
Beamer's defense is surely aware of the issues.
Prediction: Crimson Tide 20, Hokies 10
Ole Miss at No. 1 Alabama (September 28 at Bryant–Denny Stadium)
For a team that went 3-5 in the SEC last year, Ole Miss does not jump off the page as a squad that could destroy Alabama's title hopes.
Last year Ole Miss actually held Alabama to 305 total yards but wound up losing anyway, 33-14. The Rebels return 17 starters in 2013 and could pull off a shocker.
Alabama is known for its elite crop of running backs, but the team as a whole only mustered 125 rushing yards last year against Ole Miss. Once again—the offensive line could be a serious issue.
Ole Miss may be an easy team to overlook, for both fans and the team itself. That would be unwise—home game or not.
Prediction: Crimson Tide 24, Rebels 20
No. 1 Alabama at Mississippi State (November 16 at Davis Wade Stadium)
Mississippi State has been gradually improving each year. The team went 8-5 last year overall and returns four starters to an offensive line that should be able to effectively pave the way for its crop of running backs.
Defensively the team lost starting corners, but quality talent returns at both linebacker and along the defensive line.
Alabama handled the Bulldogs last year, 38-7. This year The Battle for Highway 82 takes place on the road for Alabama, and it's an easy one to forget.
Forget all of the above for a moment, and also understand that the contest with Ole Miss comes on the road a week after what is sure to be a taxing matchup with LSU.
If there is one game on the schedule that is truly a trap, it's when the Crimson Tide travel to Davis Wade Stadium. Alabama will be riding on fumes after dealing with LSU, and welcoming the Crimson Tide to town will be the highlight of the year for Mississippi State.
Prediction: Crimson Tide 27, Bulldogs 17
Note: All statistics are courtesy of Sports-Reference.com.
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