The Alabama Crimson Tide will be crowned as national champions at the end of the 2013 season.
The Tide have won three of the last four National Championships, and currently are defending a reign as a repeating champion. The 2013 season and subsequent 2014 BCS National Championship game will hail Alabama as three-peating champs, and winners of four of the last five titles.
Nick Saban leads the Crimson Tide into 2013 with a few questions on offense. However, these questions may not need answers in order for Alabama to run the table in 2013.
The running game that Alabama has used to smash, gash and wear down defenses during this historic run will lack the powerful running back that has driven this offensive machine. In 2009, Mark Ingram was the big, powerful runner that, in route to winning the Heisman Trophy, propelled Alabama to the national title while Trent Richardson provided the speed as the change-of-pace back. Two years later it was Richardson who provided the big punch up the middle for the power attack as well as the blazing speed to break off the giant runs. Last year, the power was supplied by Eddie Lacy while freshman TJ Yeldon played the change-of-pace role. This year, though, Alabama does not have a truly powerful runner to hammer the ball between the tackles.
The other offensive question is the line. Alabama lost three of the five starters on the biggest and most physical offensive line in college football. This should not actually be an issue since the Tide had lost two starters during the transition from 2011 to 2012, and the offensive line actually improved. Saban has been the best at retooling while in the SEC, and enters 2013 with several offensive linemen who are very big, very physical and very good.
The Alabama offense, under Saban’s ability to out-coach any opponent, is sure to find a way to win in 2013, but that task is made exponentially easier with a defense that returns 11 players who started games during the 2012 campaign.
The Tide’s defense was No. 1 in the country last season while allowing just 20 offensive touchdowns to opponents. That defense was not as strong as this year’s squad seems to be when it replaced eight starters from the previous year. By returning more talent to the field in 2013 than it did in 2012, the Alabama defense will be even better. This will easily cover up any and all shortcomings the offense may suffer from.
The biggest factor will be the relative lack of difficulty in Alabama’s schedule. Alabama has two games that could prove to be tough tests in 2013: at Texas A&M on Sept. 14 and hosting LSU on Nov. 9. The A&M game is actually over before the season starts, even though the Aggies did upset the Tide last season. Nick Saban is 15-2 in “revenge” games (games against an opponent Saban lost to the season before) as an SEC coach (16-2 if you count the win in the 2012 BCS National Championship over LSU, even though the Tigers beat Alabama during the regular season in 2010 and in 2011). A&M fans will be disappointed this year, as Alabama will undoubtedly roll the Aggies in College Station.
The LSU game will produce a similar result, as Alabama fans remember the 9-6 defeat the last time the two squared off in Tuscaloosa. Emotion alone will provide enough juice for the Tide to take revenge on the Tigers, but Saban will have a much bigger goal than that this year as a blowout is sure to be in order.
Alabama’s talent and defense, when combined with Saban’s coaching ability, is easily enough for the team to three-peat as national champions. Fans of other teams should already consider focusing on 2014 as the 2013 season is already in Alabama’s bag.