The toughest call for the season has been made. Al Dannity has picked Alabama as the second best team in College Football going into the 2012 season. Here’s why Al rates the Tide so highly.
The schedule The Tide kick things off in Cowboys Stadium with a primetime showdown against Michigan. The action moves to Tuscaloosa a week later for a cupcake with Western Kentucky. SEC play begins with a bang as Nick Saban’s charges head to Arkansas. A pair of likely home wins follow against Florida Atlantic and Ole Miss. Business picks up with road trips to Missouri and Tennessee before Mississippi State pay a visit to Bryant-Denny Stadium. The biggest game of the season comes a week later against LSU in Baton Rouge before home games against Texas A&M and Western Carolina. The regular season ends the way it always does, with the Iron Bowl against Auburn.
The players The Tide have the fewest returning starters of any contender this fall but they remain talent rich across the board. A.J. McCarron is back under center and he’ll be protected by an offensive line that includes Barrett Jones, arguably the best lineman in College Football. Eddie Lacy looks poised to follow in Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson’s footsteps as yet another big time running back in the Saban era. Kenny Bell ensures there’s some experience in the receiving corps.
The last time the Tide had a defense this raw they scared everybody but lost enough games to miss out on a BCS bid. A year later they were BCS National Champions. The Tide will look for early returns from this young unit, with Dee Milliner and Robert Lester both having points to prove in the secondary. Punter Cody Mandell is a returning starter as is kicker Jeremy Shelley.
The outlook Two games, at Arkansas and at LSU, leap out as road blocks on the path to perfection. The trip to Jerry World should be a formality but if the Tide make tough work of Michigan, it could give future opponents cause for hope. The Hogs will test the secondary of Alabama but Nick Saban has been too smart for Arkansas the past four seasons and I don’t see that changing. Travelling to Baton Rouge will be a whole other kind of test. If there is one game where the wheels will come off for the Tide this year, that challenge in the Mad Hatter’s house is it. Alabama will be amongst the best-of-the-best this year but I have them falling just shy of the ultimate goal.
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