‘Bama Looking to Reverse Power Shift in SEC
At Alabama, a two-loss season and no trip to the College Football Playoffs can be defined as a disappointing season.
Alabama played in seven of the first eight College Football Playoff fields only to miss out in 2022. The College football predictions are calling for a return to the CFP. However, with Georgia having surpassed Alabama in the SEC pecking order, it is no longer a sure thing that the Crimson Tide will be among the four teams vying for the national title.
With quarterback Bryce Young, edge rusher Will Anderson, and running back Jahmyr Gibbs going in the first 12 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, there are some holes to fill. Six of the 10 Alabama players drafted were on defense so that leaves some questions to be answered.
Alabama brought in the top-rated recruiting class with edge rusher Keon Keeley, offensive lineman Kadyn Proctor, and safety Caleb Downs not only being top-10 players but they also signed the No. 11 prospect at their position.
Edge rusher Yhonzae Pierre, running back Justice Haynes, receiver Jalen Hale, cornerback Dezz Rucks and defensive lineman James Smith were all top-50 recruits while receiver Malik Benson and linebacker Justin Jefferson were the No. 1 and 2 junior college recruits in the country.
Alabama wasn’t as active in the transfer portal as many of its SEC rivals. Maryland tight end CJ Dippre, Georgia linebacker Trezmen Marshall, Louisiana cornerback Trey Amos, Notre Dame quarterback Tyler Buchner, and UAB safety Jaylen Key have joined the Crimson Tide.
Alabama’s depth could be hurt by the departure of 21 outgoing transfers.
Offensive linemen Javion Cohen, Tanner Bowles, Tommy Brockermeyer, and Damieon George, linebacker Demouy Kennedy, cornerbacks Tre’Quon Fegans and Khyree Jackson, tight end Elijah Brown, receivers Traeshon Holden, JoJo Earle, Aaron Anderson, Christian Leary and Tyler Harrell. and running back Trey Sanders are among those who have headed elsewhere.
According to college football odds, Alabama (+600) is second in the odds to win the national title. The Crimson Tide is ranked third in the coaches’ poll and fourth in the Associated Press preseason poll
Alabama received 165 of the 291 first-place votes and was picked to win the SEC West Division title. The Crimson Tide finished a distant second to Georgia in the SEC preseason poll.
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Alabama Crimson Tide
- 2022 record: 11-2
- 2022 SEC record: 6-2
- Head coach: Nick Saban
- Odds to win conference title: +300
The big question is who will be the starting quarterback now that Young is off to the NFL.
The last Alabama starting quarterback not currently in the NFL is Jake Coker. He last suited up for the Crimson Tide in the national championship game on Jan. 11, 2016, so there is just a little bit of pressure on Young’s replacement.
There have been reports that Jalen Milroe, in his third season with the Alabama program, has the edge on Buchner and Ty Simpson.
According to the sportsbook, Milroe is priced at +5000 and Buchner comes in at +6000 in the Heisman Trophy odds
With Gibbs now with the NFL’s Detroit Lions, Jase McClellan is the top returning rusher after putting up 655 yards and scoring seven touchdowns. Milroe (8.6 yards per carry) would offer a huge running threat at the quarterback position.
Jermaine Burton and Ja’Corey Brooks had almost identical numbers a season ago when they combined for 79 receptions and more than 17 yards per catch. More will be needed from them with a new quarterback running the offense. Kobe Prentice had 31 catches as a freshman and classmate Isaiah Bond added 17 so keep an eye on their progress as sophomores.
Tight end Cameron Latu is now with the San Francisco 49ers
JC Latham could be one of the top offensive linemen in the country. He was named to the first team in the All-SEC preseason squad with Tyler Booker and Seth McLaughlin being second-team selections.
Linebacker Dallas Turner and cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry are the top returnees on defense. Look for Turner to top his 2022 total of four sacks, perhaps by midseason.
Deontae Lawson is the top returning tackler with 51 stops. Keep an eye on the emergence of defensive linemen Justin Eboigbe, Jaheim Oatis, and Tim Smith.
Defensive backs Brian Branch, Jordan Battle, and DeMarco Hellams are off to the NFL leaving some big shoes to fill.
Those who bet online might want to keep in mind that Alabama covered in just one of its last seven games before rolling to a 45-20 win over Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl as the 7½-point favorite.
Alabama allowed 80 points and 934 yards in the two losses and the Crimson Tide will look to tighten things up heading into this season.
Sure, there were some huge losses as two of the first three players taken in the 2023 NFL Draft were from Alabama. However, Alabama is not exactly crying poverty when it comes to the talent level on this year’s roster.
Dropping two SEC games and neither of them coming to Georgia was not an expected turn of events during the 2022 season. The losses came by a total of four points. This is a team with some unfinished business and the talent to seal the deal.
The college football spreads list Alabama as a 39½-point favorite in the season opener. Things figure to be significantly more challenging when the Texas Longhorns come to Tuscaloosa in Week 2.
The conference season opens up at home with Ole Miss and old friend Lane Kiffin. The first two conference road games are against Mississippi State and Texas A&M, with the latter of those games figuring to provide the biggest test.
The Oct. 21 game versus Tennessee is being circled on the calendar, especially with the way the 2022 contest between the Crimson Tide and Volunteers played out. The bye week between the Tennessee and LSU games is pretty smart scheduling.
The final two conference games come on the road against Kentucky and Auburn with a home date with Chattanooga in between.
Alabama is listed at -105 to win the SEC West Division followed by LSU (+200) and Texas A&M (+550).
Alabama has 15 straight double-digit victory seasons and the Crimson Tide are set to make it a sweet 16. The price is set at +140 to go over 10.5 wins during the regular season and -170 to finish under that total.
- Sept. 2 vs Middle Tennessee
- Sept. 9 vs Texas
- Sept. 16 at South Florida
- Sept. 23 vs Ole Miss
- Sept. 30 at Mississippi State
- Oct. 7 at Texas A&M
- Oct. 14 vs Arkansas
- Oct. 21 vs Tennessee
- Nov. 4 vs Louisiana State
- Nov. 11 at Kentucky
- Nov. 18 vs Chattanooga
- Nov. 25 at Auburn