2011 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Predictions and BCS Futures Odds
by Robert Ferringo - 7/19/2011
Everything…but; that’s the best way to describe the 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide. Right now they have everything they need to win the national championship, their second title in three years. That is they have everything…but a quarterback.
Alabama welcomes back 17 starters from the team that spent the first six weeks of the 2010 season as the No. 1 team in the country and finished the year at No. 10 while thrashing Michigan State, 49-7, in a bowl game. Alabama has 10 starters back from the No. 3 scoring defense and No. 5 total defense in the country (No. 1 in the SEC in both). They have a host of experienced, talented skill players, powerful offensive line, a Heisman Trophy hopeful (Trent Richardson) and a coach hell-bent on world domination.
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They have everything you need to meet their goals.
Everything…but a proven quarterback. And whether one emerges or not is the main storyline for this team as they head into what could be another championship season for the state of Alabama.
Here is Doc’s Sports 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide college football predictions and preview
Nick Saban may be a prick, but he’s a winner. (Well, in college anyway, where you just need to recruit better players than your opponent and not, you know, outcoach anyone.) This is his fifth season in Tuscaloosa and his clubs have gone 36-5 straight up in the past three seasons. More importantly, they are 26-14 against the spread during that time and Saban shows no quarter. Both of his top coordinators, Jim McElwain on offense and Kirby Smart on defense, are both back.
Let’s start with the positives. Trent Richardson could follow in Mark Ingram’s Heisman footsteps, and he leads a deep, talented group of running backs. That crew (three of the top four rushers return) will be running behind a mass of large, angry mammals on the offensive line. Four of five starters, including a pair of three-year starters, return along the line to pave the way for ‘Bama’s power running game.
They do lose Ingram and freakishly athletic wideout Julio Jones. However, the receiving corps is still I good shape with a pair of three-year starters in seniors Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks. Add tight end Mike Williams and a solid foundation is back from the No. 18 scoring offense in the nation, and an offense that finished in the Top 30 in both the run and the pass.
But they don’t have a triggerman. Greg McElroy might not have been sexy, but he was surgically efficient. He has moved on. And the vacuum he left behind will fall to either sophomore A.J. McCarron or redshirt freshman and highly-touted recruit Phil Sims (no relation). McCarron threw 48 passes in mop-up duty last year and at 6-feet, 4-inches, 210 pounds, he is a pocket passer with exceptional tools. Sims is a faster, do-some-damage-out-of-the-pocket energizer that is unproven at this level.
Neither has proven anything and neither seized control of the job in the spring. Both are blue chip prospects with all the physical makings of The Next Big Thing. And with a full supporting cast, I am sure that one of them will step up. The problem is that unless one of them is spectacular right out of the gate there will always be parts of the fan base pulling for the other guy. And if Saban tries a rotation it could hinder the team’s overall flow.
Yeah, I guess it doesn’t matter who the quarterback is when you have a sledgehammer like this behind your back. Alabama has two all-Americans, four all-SEC, and one freshman all-American returning on defense. Other than that there isn’t much to hang their hat on.
Alabama returns its seven top tacklers and 13 of its 14 leading tacklers from last year. No less than five guys from this unit will be playing on Sunday – likely next year – and there is ridiculous upperclassmen depth behind the starting 11. The heart of the group is the four returning starting linebackers (Alabama plays a 3-4) and the four returning starters in the secondary. Senior safety Mark Barron and junior linebacker Don’t’a Hightower are the top dogs and among the top players in the nation at their positions.
If there is an issue – and believe me, it’s minor – it is that they will be counting on a pair of unproven JUCO players (Jesse Williams, Quinton Dial) to play key snaps on the line. But then again, Terrence Cody was a JUCO transfer and I guess you could say he kind of worked out well.
This is the best group in the nation, by far, and there is absolutely nothing that they can’t accomplish.
2011 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Schedule Analysis
The Crimson Tide are a wrecking crew, but they still have to navigate the tricky waters of the SEC. And if they want to meet their ultimate goal of another title they still have a few potential trouble spots.
The biggest game on their nonconference schedule is a trip to Happy Valley to take on Penn State on Sept. 10. Not only will this be Alabama’s first road game, but it’s also the first road game for a team that still may not be settled on a QB. Oh, yeah, and Penn State is looking for revenge for last year’s 24-3 whitewashing in Tuscaloosa.
The next potential stumbling block comes on Oct. 1 when they take a trip to The Swamp to face Florida. Alabama has manhandled the Gators in the last two meetings by a combined score of 63-18. But this is their first trip to Florida since 2006 and the Gators are always spry at home.
Beyond that the Tide should have smooth sailing against Vandy, Ole Miss and Tennessee. They then get two weeks to prepare for their biggest SEC West game, a home test against LSU on Nov. 5. And the following week they have a tricky potential letdown game against upstart Mississippi State. But Alabama should be solid favorites in all 12 games and as long as they can avoid some outright quarterback meltdowns they should be fine.
2011 Alabama Crimson Tide Futures Odds
WagerWeb has the Crimson Tide as heavy favorites to win the SEC West (-165) but a little less steep favorite to win the SEC championship (+150, vs. Florida at +175). At 5.5-to-1, Bodog has Alabama as the No. 2 favorite to win the BCS National Championship.
2011 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Predictions
It’s title or bust for the Crimson Tide as they try to keep the BCS Championship in Alabama for the third straight year.
I actually don’t think that they are going to have a ton of trouble in the SEC this season, as several teams in the West are in transition. Sure, they have a trip to Gainesville and I still think that their trip to Starkville won’t be a gimme. But Penn State won’t stand in their way and with an extra week to prep for LSU I think that the Crimson Tide will handle their business in that spot. If Alabama does follow through and make the SEC title game, one of three teams – Georgia, South Carolina or Florida – out of the East will be standing in their way. Of that trio, I think South Carolina is the only one that can give the Tide any trouble.
However, for as absolutely loaded as Alabama is this year I can still understand why people are hesitant to pile on them as National Championship favorites. It all comes full circle and comes back to the quarterback situation. If you look at the teams that won the title out of the SEC the last few years you’re talking about a roster of elite college quarterbacks (Cam Newton, Tim Tebow, Vince Young and Matt Leinart) or at least guys that were proven, veteran commodities (Matt Flynn and Chris Leak).
However, there is one team in the last seven years that won the national championship behind a stellar running game and an immovable defense. That team had an untested, rookie starting quarterback who handled himself well and managed the game. That would be the 2009 Alabama Crimson Tide. They allegedly didn’t have a quarterback either, but things seemed to work out just fine for them.
Robert Ferringo is an NFL and college football handicapper and is coming off an exceptionally profitable 2010-11 football betting season (college and pro). Over the last year his football picks clients have more than tripled their bankrolls with his predictions in all sports. He is looking forward to building on his stellar football handicapping resume again this fall and you can check him out here.
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