SportsRatings 2013 College Football Pre-season Top 125
|Alabama Crimson Tide (SEC #1; West #1)
|AP #1 USA #1||Strength:#1 Success:#1 Overall:#1|
|Record: 13-1||Bowl: Beat Notre Dame 42-14 (BCS championship)
|Picks: AP #1 | USA #1 | Lindy's #1 | Athlon #1 | Steele #1
|Record: 11-1||Bowl: BCS Championship (Eligibility odds: 99.9%)
We hate to be this boring but yes, Alabama is our #1 team for the 2013 pre-season.
6 ret. starters
|2012 Scoring Offense: #12 (raw) #7 (adjusted for opposition)|
|2013 Projected Scoring Offense: #10 (adjusted)
Alabama's methodical offense might slip will still rank in the top 10.
|2012 Passing Rank: #76 (raw) #71 (adjusted)||2012 Sacks Allowed (adj.): #48|
|2013 Projected Passing Rank: #45 (adjusted)
||2103 Sacks Allowed (proj.): #66|
A.J. McCarron (2,933 yards, 30 TDs, 3 int) is finally getting credit for being more than a great "game manager" and if the Tide run the table he'll have to be in the Heisman race, flashy or not. Alabama's top four receivers from 2012 are back led by 1,000-yard receiver Amari Cooper (he literally had exactly 1,000 yards, and 11 TDs). More sacks than last year's 23 might allowed by a weaker offensive line but it won't get out of control. We can only imagine that they'll let a QB who had a 30:3 ratio pass the ball more often this year.
|Rushing||2012 Rushing Rank: #16 (raw) #12 (adjusted)||2013 Projected Rushing Rank: #23 (adj.)
The effect of the departure of Eddie Lacy (1,322 yards, 17 TDs) might be that we get to see what T.J. Yeldon (1,108 yards, 12 TDs) can really do. The sophomore had a great rookie year and if he improves he will be scary. Two other backs return, both of whom topped 150 yards but Yeldon will be the man this year. The offensive line won't be quite as good however without Barrett Jones, Chace Warmack, and D.J. Fluker, as two of the three were 1st team all-Americans and two were first-round draft picks (Warmack was both). Anthony Steen and Cyrus Kouandjio will anchor another strong Crimson Tide O-line, but we can't imagine it will be quite as good. Yeldon will have a great year but if he rushes for as many yards as he and Lacy had combined in 2012, hand him the Heisman, no voting necessary.
|2012 Adjusted Stats:||Rush Defense: #1 Pass Defense per-game: #1 Per-attempt: #8|
7 ret. starters
|'12 Scoring Defense: #1 (raw) #1 (adjusted)||'12 sacks: #19||'12 picks: #22|
|'13 Projected Scoring Defense: #2 (adjusted)
||'13 sacks: #13||'13 picks: #37|
Could it happen? Alabama falling to #2 on defense after winning the scoring defense crown for four straight seasons, and with 7 starters back? Let's check out the evidence. The defensive line does lose two starters from the 3-4, so the Tide might not hold onto the top rushing defense. But with all four starters back at linebacker, Alabama may have one of the better LB corps in history. C.J. Mosley led the team with 107 tackles, while Trey DePriest was #2 with just 57. Also back is sacks leader Adrian Hubbard (7). The secondary loses two starters including Dee Milliner, the nation's leader with 20 pass breakups, but two starters are back including Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (5 interceptions). Though we see a drop in interceptions coming (last year, 18) and the D-line isn't quite as good, the linebackers are so good they could make up for any deficiencies. Our formulas drop the defense to #2 here but really, we'll believe it when we see it.
- Kicking Game: Punter Cody Mandell (44.3 average) is back while Jeremy Shelley (11 of 11 FGs, all under 40 yards) departs. Cade Foster (4 of 9, all from 40+) will take over.
- Return Game: Christion Jones had a 26.6 average on kickoff returns and one touchdown last year; he's back as is Cyrus Jones (25.0). On punts, Christion Jones averaged 10.1 last year and RB Dee Hart will join too.
- Turnovers projection: McCarron can hardly throw fewer interceptions, and odds are he throws more but it should be reasonable. The defense probably doesn't match last year's interception total, however.
Coaching/Recruiting 2013 Recruiting Rank: #3 2012 Recruiting Rank: #3
What is the secret to Alabama's success? Is it great coaching? Recruiting? Well the two are pretty intertwined, but even Nick Saban wouldn't win 3 out of 4 national championships without some damn good players, and Alabama gets almost all of them. With three consecutive top-3 classes, the Tide have talent lined up waiting to get their shot on the field. This year they have more consensus 5-star players than any other team: tight end O.J. Howard from Prattville, AL; defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson from Texas; LB Reuben Foster from Auburn, AL; and defensive end Jonathan Allen from Virginia are all the best or very nearly the best at their position.
Alabama kicked off the college football season with a 41-14 win over Michigan, and even though the Wolverines didn't live up to expectations Alabama's subsequent games made them look fairly indestructable as they shut out Western Kentucky 35-0 and Arkansas 52-0 and allowed just 7 to 14 points of their next 5 opponents. At LSU, however, the Tide finally looked vulnerable, as they allowed the most points they had so far (17) while scoring 12 points fewer than their previous low. Immediately after that they lost 29-24 to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M—at home—and suddenly they needed help to get back on track for a national title. Alabama took care of business against Western Carolina and Auburn, both 49-0 wins, but struggled to contain Georgia 32-28 and needed a big stop in the final seconds to avoid a 2nd defeat. There were no such problems with Notre Dame, as Alabama jumped all over them from the beginning in a 42-14 wallop.
Last year's prediction: We were pretty close on the Tide last year, but we got one thing wrong: we picked them #2 instead of #1. Close, but no cigar.
Alabama 2013 schedule & forecast
Straight up: 12-0 Cume: 11-1 Odds of 12-0: 38%
Alabama's chart this year is pretty crazy. Use the odds above and Bama has a 45% chance to go 11-1, a 38% chance to 12-0, 14% chance for 10-2, 2% for 9-3, and 1% for 8-4 and below.
The opener vs. Virginia Tech has about a 20-point line, which doesn't quite capture the blowout we see coming. The big game is obviously Texas A&M in College Station. It is by far the hardest win of the season for Alabama; get past the Aggies and it's a matter of keeping focus. We think last year's loss and the fact that it comes so early in the year are big advantages for Alabama.
After that, what is left to say? Any other loss is a huge upset, and the Tide have a pretty easy path of things with brand-new FBS team Georgia State and still-FCS team Tennessee-Chattanooga on the slate. Only Mississippi and LSU look like they'll put up a fight and both of those are in Tuscaloosa. As if they needed help or something, Alabama scheduled a 7-4-1 this year (7 home games, 4 road, 1 neutral).
The last big game of the season will be the SEC championship, and here the tables are turned on the Tide; instead of an early game where they get revenge, it's a late game where their opponent (if Georgia) wants revenge. The Bulldogs will have been waiting a year for it, it will be in Atlanta, and it could mean the end for the Tide's run. But we have Alabama rated so much higher than Georgia we give the game to Alabama, and put them in the BCS title game with Oregon, and Alabama repeats as champs again.
Pretty boring, we warned you. Hopefully something interesting happens along the way, this is getting old!
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SportsRatings 2013 College Football Pre-season Top 125