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Top 10 Preview for 2016: Alabama Crimson Tide
Will Nick Saban capture his 6th National Title in 2016?
A Review of 2015......
Alabama captured their 16th National Championship and fourth since 2009 this year by defeating the Clemson Tigers 45-40, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ.
They rode an outstanding defense and efficient offense to once again get to the top of the College Football world. Their only loss came at home to the Ole Miss Rebels by a score of 43-37 on Sept. 19th. They ran the table during the regular season and once again captured an SEC Championship by defeating the Florida Gators. Their stud running back, Derrick Henry, captured the 2nd ever Heisman Trophy for the Tide. The Tide faced a tougher-than-expected-test against the Clemson Tigers for the Title. In Saban's previous 3 championship games at Alabama, the Tide have won by an average margin of 22 points. They were less dominant this time around, but still used several huge offensive plays and two big plays on special teams to pull out the victory.
Watch the Tide win the Title in One Hour...
Alabama's Murderer's Row in 2016
What to expect in 2016?
The Tide will once again be one of the national favorites to win the title in 2016. Currently Vegas has them at 6:1 odds to win it next year. They return plenty of talent on offense led by Wide Receiver Calvin Ridley, Tight End OJ Howard, and veteran Offensive Tackle Cam Robinson. They will, however, have to replace Quarterback Jake Coker and Heisman Trophy Winning Running Back Derrick Henry.
On Defense the Tide will once again be plenty formidable with 7 starters returning. They will also benefit from a strong infusion of talent from their 2016 recruiting class, which once again figures to finish in the top 5 in the country.
This is all a familiar song for Alabama: Strong running game? Check. Quarterback who's waited his turn to step in? Check. Uber-talented defense that is very strong up front? Check.
The wild card for the Tide's chances to win the SEC and get back to the Playoff next year is their schedule. Alabama opens up on September 3rd with a talented USC Trojan team at AT&T Field in Arlington, TX. USC is one of the few teams who have recruited even close to the level of Alabama. But their on field success doesn't come close to the Tide's. This could be a tricky game, though, due to Alabama breaking in a new offensive backfield.
Two weeks later, on Sept. 17th, Bama will travel to Oxford, MS to try and break their 2 game losing streak to the Ole Miss Rebels. Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly figures to give the Tide more heartburn with his dual threat abilities. They will also travel to Knoxville, TN on October 15th to face a Tennessee Volunteer team who feels 2016 is their year to win the SEC. The Tide narrowly escaped the Vols by a score of 19-14 last year in Tuscaloosa.
On November 5th Bama will renew their typical late season showdown with the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge against Heisman Trophy Candidate Leonard Fournette. They also have a trip to Fayetteville to face Arkansas on October 8th that could be challenging.
History has proven that a one loss SEC team is almost guaranteed a Playoff berth. The key has been to avoid that 2nd slip-up. Alabama will probably be one of the top 4 teams in the country again next year. But College Football is almost as much about scheduling as it is about on the field play. Bama is facing murderer's row in 2016 with 4 very tough road games and a tough neutral site game to open the season.
And while Alabama typically fares well against teams who run a similar style to them (i.e. Arkansas and LSU), I would say the odds are favorable for Alabama to drop that 2nd game somewhere along the way. It would still be possible for the Tide to get in the playoff with 2 losses, but that would depend on another Power 5 Champion dropping 2 games as well.
I don't foresee that happening. Therefore I'm going to project Alabama to finish with a 10-2 Regular Season record. They will get to Atlanta and capture another SEC Championship, but it won't be enough to get them back into the Playoff.