The Alabama Crimson Tide have made the College Football Playoff in all five years of its existence. They have made the last four national championship games, winning two of them. Their only true flaw is that they are sometimes not as good as Clemson, and that was the case last season. The Tigers blasted the Crimson Tide in suburban San Francisco to prevent Alabama from repeating as national champion. The Tide has not repeated since 2012. Clemson is the reason why.
Clemson, however, is not a regular-season opponent or a regular-season challenge. That should make it easier to evaluate how well Alabama will do before the College Football Playoff in 2019.
Regular Season Win Total: 11 Wins
Changes From Last Season
The Crimson Tide lost defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, offensive lineman Jonah Williams, running back Josh Jacobs, and several other players from their roster. Jalen Hurts, who was once the starting quarterback for the program in 2017, was the backup for Tua Tagovailoa in 2018 but came off the bench to lead a stirring rally in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia. Hurts transferred to Oklahoma, meaning that if Tua goes down with an injury this season, Alabama will not have the caliber of backup quarterback it might need to win the national title. Tagovailoa needs to stay healthy for this team to accomplish everything it wants to accomplish.
2019 X-Factor: Pete Golding
This is the new Alabama defensive coordinator. Golding was promoted on the staff to replace Tosh Lupoi, who moved to the NFL to be a position coach with the Cleveland Browns. Lupoi was known in college football circles as an excellent recruiter, but not a strong coordinator. He was badly outcoached by Clemson’s offensive staff in the national championship game and did not get the most out of his Alabama defense, which was ordinary for much of the season. Alabama’s defense often didn’t have to be great because the offense was usually spectacular and the stronger part of that 2018 team. Tua Tagovailoa put up huge numbers on a regular basis, so the defense’s work was not very complicated. Alabama had big leads in second halves, and the defense simply did not have to play at a very high level most of the time. The team will not need its defense to be special in most of its regular season games, but people generally do think that Golding will be a clear upgrade from Lupoi.
The Alabama schedule is very manageable. The Crimson Tide do not have to play Georgia or Florida in the normal SEC schedule. They might have to play one of the two teams in the SEC Championship Game, but not twice. Alabama’s non-conference schedule is very soft. The Tide must visit Auburn this season, which could be tricky – Alabama has lost in two of its last three visits to Auburn – but Alabama will host LSU, the team widely expected to be the second-best team in the SEC West Division. This isn’t a cream-puff schedule, but Alabama will be favored in every game it plays this upcoming season, which is normal under Nick Saban.
Prediction: Over 11 wins