For our first preview, we are going to look at the University of Alabama.
A quick disclaimer I promised: I am a Tide fan, and have been my whole life. I was born and raised in Alabama and as anyone from the state will tell you, as soon as you learn to talk you MUST pick a team: Alabama or Auburn. Families are broken up and friendships are ended over the wrong choice. And God forbid if you change your mind later, or even worse pick Tennessee instead.
Alabama-Auburn is a rivalry that is probably one of the hottest in football, but Alabama- Tennessee is pure hatred—especially since the whole Phillip Fulmer tattle tale fiasco.
But as I said yesterday, this will be a fair and unbiased assessment. It just so happens that Auburn and Tennessee are in a rebuilding year, but honestly that kind of messes the whole SEC dream of having every team go bowling up. So I am not "hating" on them in their articles, just being honest.
With that, lets get on with the show.
Alabama has some big question marks going into this season, namely their new quarterback and untested offensive line. Both of these positions are critical and can make the difference in a 12-0, 11-1 or a 9-3 season.
In the Tide's favor is not having Florida in the regular season, and having Tennessee and LSU at home. Tennessee and LSU always play 'Bama close, and home field advantage is a plus.
Nick Saban will have the defense ready to play, and after hearing his speech to the defense yesterday at practice (on YouTube and also on www.rolltide.com) and seeing their reaction, this is not an area of concern for me. One potential problem is the new secondary, but they performed well in the spring.
McElroy looked good in the spring as well, and while not a seasoned starter, he has been in the system for a few years and knows what to expect in SEC stadiums.
Key games will be Arkansas on Sept. 26, who always play 'Bama close, Kentucky on Oct 3, and Ole Miss on Oct 10. Both Kentucky and Ole Miss are away games, and remember that Kentucky almost beat Alabama at home last year. If Ole Miss lives up to the hype, they will hand 'Bama their only loss of the year.
So I have Alabama going 11-1, with a loss at Ole Miss. Tennessee and LSU will be typical SEC battles with 'Bama pulling out close wins in both, but possibly running up the score in the fourth on the Volunteers. Arkansas and Kentucky will be close wins.
Alabama will pull a Florida this year by losing to Ole Miss, yet still play in the SEC Championship Game. They should meet Florida, who will be humbled this year by a vengeful Alabama Team who feels they let the whole state down last year. They blame Florida for the loss at Utah, believe it or not, and are looking forward to settling the score.