2012 Alabama Crimson Tide Predictions and College Football Futures Odds
by Alan Matthews - 5/2/2012
I was perusing a few books the other day and came across some very cool way-early props on the 2012 college football season at 5Dimes. I can’t remember when some of these have gone up so early. It’s never too early for some college football predictions!
So with that said, here’s a quick look at props involving the defending National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide. Of course, last year the Tide won the SEC’s sixth straight national title and this year they attempt to become the first consensus repeat champs since Nebraska in 1994 and 1995.
The bad news for the Tide is that they lost of ton of superstars to the NFL Draft, led by running back Trent Richardson, safety Mark Barron, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and linebacker Don’t’a Hightower – all four were first-round picks in last week’s draft (the second straight year Bama had four first-round picks). Linebacker Courtney Upshaw was considered a first-round talent but lasted until the second round. Thus, Alabama is projected to have just 13 starters back (including kickers), which is No. 81 in the nation and tied for the fewest in the SEC. The nation’s best defense from last season lost seven starters -- after Alabama won the 2009 national title, the Crimson Tide had to replace nine defensive starters.
But the offensive line should be a strength in 2012 with four starters back, led by Barrett Jones. He won the Outland Trophy last year at left tackle and could have been a first-round pick in this year’s draft but decided to return. He moves to center, replacing William Vlachos. Taking over at left tackle is sophomore Cyrus Kouandjio. As a true freshman last year, the Parade All-American saw action in eight games before tearing the ACL in his left knee. The Tide led the SEC in rushing last season and still should be stacked there with Eddie Lacy taking Richardson’s spot but also with plenty of young talent behind him. QB A.J. McCarron, the offensive MVP in the BCS title game, should be even better in his second season starting.
Add all that up and with Nick Saban’s continuously loaded recruiting classes, the Tide will be a Top-5 preseason pick again.
Alabama is currently the third-favorite at 5Dimes on college football futures odds at +625 to win the BCS title again. You can also bet on Bama to win the title at +600 or the field at -1200. The Tide are second-favorites to LSU to win the SEC title game at +200. Alabama’s ‘over/under’ wins total – not including the conference title game or any bowl game – is 10.5. And you can even bet on Alabama’s Sept. 1 opener against Denard Robinson and Michigan at Cowboys Stadium, with the Tide as 14-point favorites. McCarron is +600 to finish in the Top 3 in the Heisman and +2200 to win it.
The Tide’s schedule looks incredibly challenging this season, as it always does playing in the ultra-tough SEC. They open against one of the Big Ten favorites in Michigan, which won the Sugar Bowl last year and brings back seven starters on each side of the ball and both kickers.
The next week is a cakewalk home opener for Alabama vs. Western Kentucky. But then comes a game at Arkansas and probably the SEC’s top offense, led by Heisman candidate QB Tyler Wilson and RB Knile Davis. But who knows what the Hogs will be this year in the wake of the Bobby Petrino firing? At least new (interim) Coach John L. Smith knows the personnel having been a Hogs assistant before leaving briefly for Weber State. The Razorbacks get two cupcakes before Bama so you know they will be well-prepared. That’s probably a Tide loss then.
After home wins over Florida Atlantic and Ole Miss, Alabama gets a week off before visiting new SEC member Missouri and then what should be a vastly improved Tennessee team with 18 starters back and potential 2013 No. 1 overall NFL pick QB Tyler Bray. I could see a split there.
Alabama should be favored in four of its final five games: vs. Mississippi State, vs. Texas A&M, vs. Western Carolina and the Iron Bowl vs. Auburn. But the Tide will no doubt be dogs for the No. 3 rematch at LSU, which might be the preseason No. 1 team in the land. Think the Tigers will be jacked up to make up for that egg they laid in the national title game?
So let’s go back to all those odds. I don’t see the value on taking Alabama to win the national title in either prop. I also think the SEC West goes to either LSU or Arkansas this season, so forget the SEC title prop. I do think Alabama beats Michigan. Yes, that rebuilt Tide defense obviously will have a major challenge in Robinson, but at least they get all offseason to prepare for “Shoelace.” So I would go with U-M and the points.
On the wins total, I think the over is easily the way to go. Just losing those incredibly tough games at Arkansas and LSU would mean Alabama won’t have more than 10 wins. And it’s possible the Tide lose to Michigan, Auburn, at Missouri and/or Tennessee (although I see only one defeat in those four). I would guess a 9-3 mark this regular season. As for McCarron’s Heisman chances – I would say zilch. I mean, Joe Namath didn’t even win it and Bama will still be a run-first team.
Only four months until that first kickoff!
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