College Football Picks Top Ten Countdown- #2 Alabama
Alabama entered the Auburn game unbeaten and in the driver’s seat to play for another SEC title as well as another BCS Championship. The last few minutes of that game are probably still replaying in Alabama fans nightmares as Auburn found a way to pull off a miracle win and go on to win the SEC and play in the BCS Championship Game.
That loss would have hurt badly no matter who it came against, but the fact that it was Alabama’s hated rivals made it hurt that much more. In the Sugar Bowl, Alabama looked less than motivated, and they were beaten soundly by Oklahoma. Nick Saban’s teams certainly aren’t accustomed to finishing the season with two straight losses, but that’s exactly what happened in 2013.
The Crimson Tide lost some key players from last year’s team, but anyone who has followed the recruiting rankings in recent years knows how well Nick Saban has recruited. There is plenty of extremely high level talent waiting in the wings. Expectations are still sky high.
2014 Alabama Crimson Tide Offense
There really aren’t any questions about this Alabama offense outside the quarterback spot, but the quarterback spot is a major question mark. A.J. McCarron was probably underrated during his time at Alabama. He was a winner who made smart decisions and was a terrific leader. Jacob Coker and Blake Sims are the leaders in a battle for the starting quarterback job in 2014. Most assume Coker will eventually win the job. Coker has plenty of skills, but without any game time on the field I’m worried about how he’ll fare against some of these SEC defenses.
You better believe the Crimson Tide are going to feed T.J. Yeldon the football as often as possible. He’s one of the best backs in the nation, and with a weakness at quarterback this would be one way to cover up that weakness. Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake should see the field plenty as second and third stringers too, and both of them are very good runners. Alabama’s offensive line is dominant every year. They did lose a first-team All-American, but I expect another very impressive showing from this group in 2014.
Whoever wins the starting quarterback job will have plenty of veteran pass catchers to throw it to. Amari Cooper is the best of the bunch, but this Alabama wide receivers group is deep. Will the quarterback be consistent enough for them to put up big numbers?
2014 Alabama Crimson Tide Defense
Don’t be deceived by the fact that Alabama is only returning five starters on the defensive side of the ball. This defense is going to be absolutely stacked once again in 2014. If there was a slight weakness on this defense in the past two years, it was the defensive line. That will no longer be the case this season. A’Shawn Robinson is set to have a mammoth year, and Nick Saban picked up a couple amazing junior college transfers to start on the defensive line. This unit is deeper and more talented than they have been in several years.
At the linebacker spot, Trey DePriest is a star and he’ll have a great senior season. Duvall will be another starter for the Crimson Tide, and I expect big things out of several of Alabama’s youngsters at this position. This may be the weakest unit on the defense, but they are still very good.
Alabama typically has one of the best secondary’s in the nation, and that will be the case again this year. Landon Collins and Nick Perry will be terrific leaders from the safety spots. Freshmen Tony Brown and Eddie Jackson join an already highly talented group of cornerbacks. There’s a plethora of stars in the secondary here. It will be a virtual no fly zone in the Alabama secondary this year.
Don’t expect any drop off from Alabama’s defense as a whole. This defense is going be amazing.
College Football Betting Odds from BetOnline
2014 Alabama Odds to win National Title: +600
Odds to win SEC: +130
Odds to win SEC West: -175
Alabama to make 4 team playoff (Yes): +110
Alabama Season Win Total: 10.5
It’s a unique situation for Alabama this year. For the first time in a while, Alabama doesn’t come into the season ranked number one. They are still number two though, and everyone knows how good this team can be. The schedule looks pretty favorable, but the game at LSU will be very tricky. Another reason this is a unique spot for Alabama is they literally have no apparent weakness other than the quarterback spot. If the quarterback here plays better than expected, this team could be unbeatable. On the other hand, if the quarterback spot is a major problem all year, it could ruin everything for the Crimson Tide. A lot is riding on the starting quarterback for Alabama in 2014!
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