The Crimson Tide came up short in its attempt at a national championship three-peat last season, losing in crazy fashion to rival Auburn and in the Sugar Bowl to Oklahoma to finish 11-2 SU, 7-6 ATS.
This year Alabama will have to replace starting quarterback AJ McCarron and over half its starting defense, but as usual the talent is in place in Tuscaloosa to fill those spots. If all goes as expected the Tide should be right in the running once again for the SEC title and for a spot in the new, four-team college football national championship playoff.
Alabama Odds to Win SEC: 7/5 at Sportsbook
Alabama Odds to Win College Football Championship: 11/2 at Sportsbook
Alabama Regular Season Win Total: 10.5 at Sportsbook
Alabama Betting Props: T.J. Yeldon to Win Heisman 18/1 at Sportsbook
Alabama started 11-0 last season, with wins over, among others, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and LSU. But then came that fateful day at Jordan-Hare, when four Tide field goal attempts resulted in zero 'Bama points, and that game-winning 100-yard return for the Tigers with no time left on the clock. Perhaps deflated by that shocking turn of events, the Tide then got upset by the Sooners in the Sugar Bowl 45-31 as two-touchdown favorites. Still, through seven seasons under head coach Nick Saban Alabama has lost just 15 games, and six of those came in Saban's first season back in 2007.
From 2008 through 2011 the Tide went 37-19 ATS; but over the last two seasons they've gone 14-13 ATS, mainly because they've been favored by so much. Last year 'Bama was favored by at least three touchdowns eight times, and still managed to go 5-3 ATS in those games.
This year the Tide returns 12 starters, seven on offense and five on defense. McCarron is gone, likely to be replaced by Florida State transfer Jake Coker, but running back TJ Yeldon is back, along with three of the big boys along the offensive line. And while six starters need to be replaced on defense, that defense might still rank as the SEC's best.
Alabama opens this season in Atlanta against West Virginia, and while the Tide later has to play at LSU, they get Florida, Texas A&M and Auburn all at home, and miss Georgia and South Carolina – at least until the SEC championship game.
SEC Championship Odds at Sportsbook as of August 5
South Carolina 5/1
Ole Miss 14/1
Texas A&M 25/1
Mississippi State 40/1
The Tide rolled to a second consecutive national championship last year, and this time they won the SEC along the way. Now what else is there to do but shoot for an unprecedented third straight BCS title?
Sure, they lost some talent from the team that destroyed Notre Dame back on that Monday night in January, but under coach Nick Saban the Tide just reloads, season after season.
Odds to Win SEC: +140 at Sportsbook
Regular Season Win Total: 11 at Sportsbook
Alabama opened last year with that romp over Michigan, rolled through the next seven weeks, and rallied late to beat LSU in Baton Rouge 21-17. But the Tide then got shocked by Johnny Football and the Aggies in Tuscaloosa. Not to be deterred, 'Bama picked itself up, held off a game Georgia team in the SEC title bout, then exposed the Irish in that 42-14 BCS Championship Game victory.
This year 'Bama returns six starters on offense, led by quarterback AJ McCarron (30/3 TD/INT ratio last year) and 1,100-yard rusher TJ Yeldon, and seven starters are back on what might be the best defense in the country. They will have to replace three starters along the offensive line and three of last year's top six tacklers, but that's not asking too much.
And this year's schedule is very kind, considering they miss Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida, at least until the SEC championship game. The Tide does have to visit College Sportsbook to play Texas A&M on September 14, but they'll have revenge on their side. And 'Bama gets a week off before hosting LSU on November 9.
The problem for bettors, though, is dealing with the big pointspreads on Tide games. Last year Alabama only went 7-7 ATS, because they were favored by three touchdowns or more nine times. They covered 21 points against the Razorbacks, 22 points against Missouri, 21 points against Tennessee, 23 points against Mississippi State, and 34 points against Auburn, but couldn't (or declined to) cover 38 points against Western Kentucky, 49 points against Florida Atlantic, 30 points against Ole Miss, and 50 points against Western Carolina.
Barring unforeseen circumstances the Tide will be favored in every game this season, many times, again, by large numbers. For instance, as of late July the sportsbooks were listing Alabama at around -20 for its season opener in Atlanta on August 31 over Virginia Tech.
SEC Championship Odds at Sportsbook as of July 29
South Carolina +500
Texas A&M +850
Mississippi State +10000