10/17/20 MFB Alabama vs Georgia Alabama wide receiver John Metchie III (8) Photo by Kent Gidley

Alabama 

2020 Results: 13-0, 10-0 (SEC) 

2021 Projection: 11-1 

Everyone and their cousin projects Alabama to once again be one of the favorites if not THE favorite to win the national championship again this year. In typical Bama fashion, the Crimson Tide saw a load of players go high in the NFL draft and watched their offensive coordinator leave to take a head coaching position. 

This is nothing new in Crimson Tide land, but the one aspect of this team that no one seems to focus on is the quarterback position. For the first time in close to seven years, Alabama enters the season without a proven commodity with true college football playing experience at the position.  

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Heir apparent Bryce Wood has had plenty of time to grow and mature in the system, but he hasn’t taken meaningful snaps with games on the line. A new offensive coordinator and younger, less-experienced weapons surrounding him means Bama’s offense which has been a fine-tuned machine for the last few years could have some sputters this season. 

Defensively, the Tide are once again loaded with a plethora of talent. The defensive line doesn’t have as much experience, but many people believe the Tide’s linebackers might be the best in the nation. They also return almost the whole defensive secondary, meaning that even if Alabama experiences some offensive hiccups, they can possibly offset it with a tougher, more stringent defense. 

10/12/19 MFB vs TexasAM Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban Photo by Kent Gidley

Any serious questions about the Tide should be answered by the second Saturday of October, as Alabama plays three intriguing games in the early part of the schedule this season. The Tide opens at Mercedes Benz stadium against Miami before travelling to play Florida in Gainesville two weeks later.  

Those two early-season litmus tests will give fans a good glimpse into what Alabama might have. The Oct. 2 date against Ole Miss should be must-see viewing as Lane Kiffen and his Rebels might be able to put up some points on the Tide. And if pundits are to be believed, the battle for the SEC West comes the next weekend as Alabama travels to play Texas A&M.  

Bama draws LSU at home after a bye week in early November and ends at Auburn, but both of those squads have major question marks entering this season. Naysayers have predicted that one of these years Alabama’s reload might not go as planned, but for the most part Saban and his charges have proved them wrong time and again.  

If Alabama’s offense can get on track early and the defense is as promised, Tide fans can go ahead and book tickets to the playoffs again. 

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An injury while running at Auburn ended Jim Alred’s long-shot hopes of possibly competing in the Olympics, so he turned to writing and has been crafting award-winning stories across multiple mediums ever since. Along the way he’s been chased by a grizzly bear, worked as Goofy at Walt Disney World, been nominated for two Emmys, interviewed celebrities like Tiger Woods, Bo Jackson, Bill Clinton, coaches his daughters in cross country and soccer and can often be found running with his wife, Tara, around Rome.