2014 Alabama Crimson Tide Odds to Win the SEC with Picks & Predictions
by Aaron Smith - 7/28/2014
The Alabama Crimson Tide have set the bar extremely high. They've set it so high that last year's 11-2 record feels like an extreme disappointment. That's going to be the case at a school where they won the BCS National Championship in 2009, 2011, and 2012. Alabama entered their game at Auburn with an 11-0 record, and they were 10-point favorites in that game. The Crimson Tide controlled the majority of that game and outgained Auburn by 102 yards, but the Tigers last-second miracle propelled them to the SEC title game and eventually the BCS title game.
Alabama was then sent to take on Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. Alabama played like they weren't motivated to be there, and the Sooners threw for 348 yards and won 45-31 over the Crimson Tide. Alabama returns 12 starters from last years' team. Only five starters from last year's defense return, and the Crimson Tide will have a brand new quarterback. At an average school, this would be a rebuilding season. At Alabama under Nick Saban, there are no rebuilding seasons.
2014 Alabama Crimson Tide Offense
The offense will be led by first-year offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. Kiffin was previously considered an offensive mastermind, and Saban obviously has a lot of faith in him, so it will be interesting to see how this match works out. Replacing McCarron isn't going to be an easy task. McCarron didn't necessarily have the best numbers or all the perfect mechanics, but he was a winner through and through, and he did a great job as leader of the offense.
So the quest to find a new leader begins at Alabama. At the beginning of the offseason, the coaching staff said there was a six-way battle for the starting quarterback job. Almost everyone assumes that Jacob Coker will get the job, but Blake Sims has an outside shot of getting the job as well. I think Coker has the highest upside, and that should win him the job. He might actually make more spectacular plays than McCarron did, but the consistency won't be there. It's a definite step down at the quarterback spot.
TJ Yeldon might be the best running back in the country, so Alabama is in great shape at the running back spot. Yeldon is the perfect combination of speed and strength that doesn't come around very often. He's going to get the ball a lot, but Alabama has solid depth with Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake.
While many overlook it, the offensive line has been one of the biggest reasons for Alabama's success over the past few years. For seven years in a row, Alabama has upped their yards per carry number from the previous year. Last year's group only allowed 17 sacks as well, so they were elite. They lost a lot from last year, but they do have plenty of veterans ready to step right in.
2014 Alabama Crimson Tide Defense
There are only five starters coming back, so Alabama's defense is in trouble, right? Definitely not. Alabama's one weakness defensively the last couple years was on the defensive line. That is going to be their single biggest strength this year. A'Shawn Robinson is a 6-foot-4, 320-pound beast who is going to make a name for himself this year at the defensive end spot. He was the best lineman on last year's team, and he'll make a big jump in his sophomore season. Juco transfers Jarran Reed and D.J. Pettway should get a lot of playing time this year. This group is extremely deep, and they will be very good.
Alabama has had amazing linebackers the last few years, and while this year's group will be down a bit, they are still very good. Trey DePriest will be the leader from the middle linebacker spot. He was the third-leading tackler on last year's team. Alabama will have several unproven guys at the linebacker spot, but based on how highly they were rated in recruiting I expect them to fare just fine.
The secondary took a big hit when Clinton-Dix left after last year, but they'll still be a high-quality group this year. This year's secondary isn't going to be able to put up the amazing numbers that last year's group did, but the 2013 secondary at Alabama was about as good as you'll ever see in college football.
2014 Alabama Odds to Win SEC Conference
Obviously, the oddsmakers respect Alabama a lot at this point, and why wouldn't they? Bovada lists the Alabama Crimson Tide as 8/5 favorites to win the SEC Championship. The Crimson Tide are listed at 2/3 to win the SEC West Division. Alabama is also listed as a co-favorite with Florida State at 11/2 to win the National Championship. Alabama's win total is set at 10.5 games.
2014 Alabama Crimson Tide Picks & Predictions
Alabama has a fairly favorable schedule this year . The nonconference slate is very easy. The SEC schedule includes trips to LSU and Ole Miss, but Alabama hosts Auburn as well as Florida. They avoid the best teams from the East during the regular season. I still worry about Alabama's inexperience at offense, but this defense is going to dominate once again. It's hard to imagine Alabama losing more than one regular season game, which puts them in a great position to play for an SEC title and be among the final four teams in the first four-team playoff to determine a National Champion.
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