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Alabama lost a bunch of talent, but that doesn't really mean anything for Nick Saban's group. No matter who or how many players leave for the NFL, the Crimson Tide always have studs in the waiting. And because of that, they'll have a solid chance of going for a repeat national title.
At this early writing Alabama is listed at odds of 7 to 1 to win the National Championship at 5 dimes sportsbook which makes them the current favorites. Odds change, so be sure to check in with 5 dimes and betonline for the lastest updates.
Starting on offense, the biggest worry outside of quarterback may be the offensive line. They were dominated by a mostly newer defensive front in the spring game, which was somewhat worrisome. Then again, 'Bama probably has a top-five defensive line again. The offensive line will improve, especially with tackle Cam Robinson returning, and that should lead to another offense that runs through opposing defenses.
Running backs Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough look set to be the next great one-two punch for the Tide. Harris provides the quickness, while Scarbrough provides the size. The most enticing thing about the offense will be the passing game. If the Tide can figure out their quarterback, the options are aplenty on the receiving end. Last year's top three guys are back in Calvin Ridley (89 receptions, 1,045 yards), ArDarius Stewart and tight end O.J. Howard. Ridley ran circles around Michigan State last year and then Howard went for 208 yards and two touchdowns in the title game against Clemson. Quarterback is still undecided with Cooper Bateman in the lead, only because of experience. He's getting competition from newcomers Blake Barnett, David Cornwell and Jalen Hurts, though.
But at the end of the day, Alabama has the talent to win 9-10 games even with below average quarterback play.
The defense lost a lot of guys, but they also bring in a bunch and this is going to be a dominant unit once again. Along the line, Jonathan Allen brings experience, while Da'Shawn Hand is set to be the next first-round draft pick. 'Bama returns the most players in the secondary, led by All-American safety Eddie Jackson, who will keep this defense from faltering. The biggest question is at linebacker with a couple new faces, but Rashaan Evans made a name in the spring game with 17 total tackles.
Like last year, Alabama opens the season with a difficult neutral-site game, this time taking on USC. It'll be a tough test, but the Trojans haven't been on 'Bama's level for a while. The SEC slate is difficult early for the Tide, as they travel to Ole Miss in just their third game. They lost that meeting last year, but didn't let that derail their season. Back-to-back road games at Arkansas and Tennessee will be tough in mid-October, especially with the hype that the Vols are getting. If Alabama is undefeated or in first after those games, they'll still have to travel to LSU at the beginning of November, which may end up deciding the SEC West.
As expected, the schedule isn't too kind for Alabama playing in the SEC, but that didn't stop them last year. If the Tide can figure out their quarterback situation, expect another 10- or 11-win season with that LSU game deciding who reaches the SEC title game and possibly College Football Playoff.
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2016 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Schedule
Sept. 3 vs. USC (AT&T Stadium)
Sept 10 vs. Western Kentucky
Sept. 17 at Ole Miss
Sept. 24 vs. Kent State
Oct. 1 vs. Kentucky
Oct. 8 at Arkansas
Oct. 15 at Tennessee
Oct. 22 vs. Texas A&M
Nov. 5 at LSU
Nov. 12 vs. Mississippi State
Nov. 19 vs. Chattanooga
Nov. 26 vs. Auburn
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