When asked by several friends about the upcoming season’s schedule and Alabama’s prospects following spring practices, I had basically the following predictions to make:
Clemson (at the Georgia Dome): I just don’t see Alabama winning this game. The Clemson offense will be stellar and I don’t think that Alabama’s defense will be in sync yet because there will be a few starters for this game that won’t be starters later in the year. The Tiger’s (first of the three Alabama plays) defense will be just good enough to keep Alabama from getting going in the early season test. I believe Alabama makes it close in the end but Clemson prevails by maintaining their early lead. (Alabama’s Record: 0-1)
Tulane: Alabama comes in hungry and motivated after the opening loss. This one may be close early but Tulane can’t hang, even with the less than stellar Alabama talent; The young guys get to see the field a lot in the second half in this Alabama victory. (Alabama’s Record: 1-1)
Western Kentucky: The youth movement continues as the freshman, red-shirt freshman, and sophmores play a lot in this blow-out Alabama victory. (Alabama’s Record: 2-1)
at Arkansas: While Bobby Petrino will build a good program at Arkansas – if he stays long enough to do that – this will be a rebuilding, or should I say building year, and the talent just isn’t there yet. This is a game Alabama’s young-but-improving defense will need. Alabama covers the spread. (Alabama’s Record: 3-1)
at Georgia: My gut tells me that this could be one of those magical, season defining games, for Alabama, but my brain tells me otherwise. The only reason Alabama took this game to overtime last year was mistakes by Georgia – mainly the tight ends inability to catch passes. I think Alabama keeps this game close, because they will certainly be prepared for it but Georgia is just too talented on both sides of the ball. This could be a magical year in Athens and Alabama can take pride, for now, in the fact that they will play a national championship contender close – I just can’t see them winning it. (Alabama’s Record: 3-2)
Kentucky: Alabama takes out their frustrations over the Georgia loss by taking a depleted Wildcat squad behind the woodshed. This is the game where after the road experiences and adversity of losing, you start to see the defense gain an identity and confidence. The offense may be a little slower to bounce back on this one. (Alabama’s Record: 4-2)
Ole Miss: After Alabama gets the off-weak to heal and rest Ole Miss comes in and shakes them back to reality. Houston Nutt has never been scared of Alabama and he will easily motivate a squad full of kids who have gone through great adveristy – not to mentioned lived with constant fear of having their limbs ripped from their bodies at any moment by The Orgeron – and played Alabama close enough to win every year. I see them jumping out to an early lead with outstanding defense and opportunistic offense (this is nothing new for Alabama vs. Ole Miss). How Alabama chooses to respond will define the rest of the season. Since I’m an unabashed Alabama homer, I believe that the whole team responds and the second half is all Alabama. The Tide wins a game that should be even closer than the last few contests between these schools but won’t be. And if they don’t, pack your bags for Shreveport and dig in for the “I told you so’s”from every corner of the football world. (Alabama’s Record: 5-2)
at Tennessee: In this installment of the greatest contest in College Footballdom, the Volunteers will welcome the Crimson Tide into Knoxville with revenge on their minds and malice in their hearts. It won’t matter; the tide has turned (no pun intended) on this rivalry, and for all the talk about renewed offense and improvement, this is Phillip Fulmer’s last season as the head coach. I don’t know why I believe this – it could very well be my utter loathing of the University of Tennessee – but I think they are in for a tumultuos season. After losses to Florida, Georgia, and UCLA (yes- I said that) the Alabama loss will be the hammer blow to the wooden stake placed in the fat one’s doughnut glazed filled heart. Then again I could be blinded by hatred and have never picked UT (and never will). (Alabama’s Record: 6-2)
Arkansas State: Alabama guarantees at least a trip to Memphis and not a return to Shreveport in the lopsided win that sees the young guys -who will be noticeably improved by this point – play a lot and the streak of November defeats broken. (Alabama’s Record:7-2)
at LSU: I got an email from a friend last week in the minutes after Perrilloux’s dismissal was announced saying that Alabama might now have a chance to beat LSU this season. Saban’s return to Death Valley will be epic and so will the contest as these games always seem to be here lately. Like Georgia and Clemson though, this team is just too talented. Ross’ brother has been mauled in this game the last two seasons and this year will be no different. It will be close, as it usually is, but the LSU defense will again prove to be too much late in the game. (Alabama’s Record: 7-3)
Mississippi State: There will be more pressure on this game than necessary but by this point in the season, Alabama should be a vastly improved team. State, as usual, will not challenge offensively, especially to a defense that is starting to get a good feel of itself (don’t laugh). If the offense can manage not to shoot itself in the foot (and it should by this point) Alabama wins a game that it will be favored in only slightly because of recent past performance (in the series). (Alabama’s Record: 8-3)
Auburn: This game certainly is worthy of its own post but for now I’ll keep it simple. “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, we are free at last”. Alabama ends six years of frustration and wins this game coming into it as the favorite for the first time in six years. Alabama wins. Alabama wins. Alabama wins. There will be dancing in the streets and celebrating on the Quad until the wee hours. [editor's note: the day I predict an Auburn victory is the day I burn everything I own related to Alabama football (which would be a considerable inferno) and quit following football. Call we what you want; irrational, delusional, whatever. I will never, ever, under any circumstances, pick Auburn.] (Alabama’s Record: 9-3)
I intended to go into more detail on this and I probably will closer to the season, but prior to kickoff, because I want to use this as a reference to look at each week as the season progress. So there it is, a little bit of rational thought and a little bit of standard home-cooking. It’s simply my opinion and though Buzz Bissinger may not care what it is, maybe you do. Please feel free to give me your forecasts in the comments.
Also if your interested, Will Heath has taken a look at the SEC West, sans Perrilloux and I think he has some good points.