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Monday, June 10, 2013

Alabama Three-Peat?

Wild on Sports
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Alabama Three-Peat?
By Wild on Sports Analyst Bryan Ridall

Alabama has a chance to close a chapter in college football history by not only cementing themselves as one of the greatest programs in college football, but continuing the SEC’s dominance in the BCS National Championship game, having won the last eight. If Alabama wins, it would give them four crystal balls in the last five years, and also give head coach Nick Saban his fifth national championship, Saban is already the first coach to win four national championships in ten years; however, winning four in five years, would cement his as the greatest modern-era coach of all time, and cement quarterback A.J. McCarron’s legacy as the most successful college quarterback of all time, even if he never wins the Heisman.

Alabama has been a factory for NFL-caliber players since Saban has taken over, and this year will be no different. Alabama lost three offensive linemen this year in the draft, but will be looking to reload with many young, prized recruits. Eddie Lacy also left for the NFL after a thrilling National Championship Game performance, but T.J. Yeldon is ready to be the feature back behind the powerful offensive line, with Trey Roberts and Kenyan Drake fighting for playing time. The defense is the strength of the Crimson Tide, and while they lost CB Dee Milliner, LB Nico Johnson, DT Jesse Williams, and DE Quinton Dial, the Tide defense is going to be as ferocious as ever this year. Alabama’s front seven is littered with players looking to take that next step, as well as young players looking to make an impact on the coaching staff. The advantage of having such a deep front seven is Alabama’s ability to employ steady rotations of their linemen and linebackers, keeping all of their players fresh, and allowing the players to tire out opposing offenses. Alabama also has the benefit this year of a veteran secondary, which only improves a strong defensive line and linebacking corps. While Alabama is always defined by their defense, this year’s team will be led to success by senior quarterback A.J. McCarron. McCarron was spectacular last year, passing for almost 3000 yards and 30 touchdowns while leading Alabama to a 13-1 record, and a second straight national championship. McCarron has been able to utilize his strong offensive line and running game to set up his play action pass, and his attention to detail continues to allow him to improve. McCarron will have a relatively veteran receiving corps along with highly recruited freshman Raheem Falkins. This year could be McCarron’s year to finally break through and win the Heisman while leading the Tide to another championship.

The thing that may determine whether or not the Crimson Tide make it to the National Championship game, more so than their coaching or players, is the relatively easy schedule that they will play, especially in the SEC. Alabama starts the year in Atlanta against Virginia Tech, a team who has greatly underperformed in the last few years, and ‘Bama is already a 22 point favorite. Alabama then gets a bye, and will look to avenge their only loss of last year against Johnny Maziel and Texas A&M, at College Station. The bye week will allow Alabama a full two weeks to prepare for Manziel, a gift from the scheduling committee. Alabama then plays games against Colorado State, Ole Miss, Georgia State, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Tennessee. None of these teams will be a real threat to Alabama, and they will only play one of those games away from Tuscaloosa. Once the stretch of easy games is over, Alabama will face LSU, once again at Tuscaloosa, giving Alabama an important advantage. Alabama closes the year at Mississippi State, home against Chattanooga, and at Auburn in the Iron Bowl. In all likelihood, there are three games that could trip up the Tide, the first being the rematch with A&M. LSU will pose a threat to Bama, but because they are home, the Tide should be able to take care of business in front of their home crowd. The game that could end up tripping up Alabama is November 16th at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs started the season 7-0 before a loss to Alabama derailed their season. The Bulldogs will be looking for revenge, and Alabama will be coming off a tough game against LSU and could trip up against the Bulldogs.

It is likely that if Alabama finishes the year with only one loss, they will compete in the last BCS National Championship, for their fourth time in five years. With an extremely easy conference schedule that excludes Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, and includes only four games outside of Tuscaloosa, A.J. McCarron will be looking to not only be the first quarterback to lead his team to three national championship games, but also win his first Heisman ever. On August 31st, all eyes will be on ‘Bama as they start their quest for the last BCS National Championship.

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