I mean, did you really expect anything different? Year in and year out, Alabama has the highest expectations not only in the SEC but across the country, and rightfully so. This year, the program is right back toward the top of the Vegas season win totals in 2016.
Alabama’s win total is equal to LSU’s this fall (10), and their annual game – in Baton Rouge this year – could possibly determine which team tops it, pushes or goes under.
But the LSU game is just one of four really tough dates on the Crimson Tide’s schedule. Oh, by the way, both teams will be coming off a bye the week prior, so we’re going to hopefully see the two at their best following time off. More on that later.
So let’s go about Alabama’s over/under like we did last week with the Razorbacks. Looking at the Tide’s schedule, I find it safe to consider these games wins: Western Kentucky, Kent State, Kentucky, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Chattanooga and Auburn.
That leaves these four games – Southern Cal, at Ole Miss, at Tennessee, at LSU. All Alabama needs is a split to push and three of four for the over. Here’s some info on the four to hopefully make your decision easier:
- Southern Cal: Cody Kessler is gone, and in steps junior Max Browne, who’ll in all likelihood be making his first start against Alabama on a neutral field. But the Trojan’s strengths will be along the offensive line, where they return all starters from last season, and at running back.
JuJu Smith-Schuster is back at receiver for USC as a big-time playmaker as well. But an inexperienced defensive line could be the downfall in this game. The Tide held Wisconsin’s ground game to just 41 yards on 20 carries a year ago in the same building. Good chance at a win.
- Ole Miss: They’ve beaten the Tide each of the last two seasons, and this fall the game returns to Oxford, home of one of college's football top games in 2014. Alabama and LSU, as I mentioned earlier, are the favorites in the West, but the Black Rebel Bears are another viable choice if they can knock off one of these teams (both in Oxford). Going with a loss, again, here.
- Tennessee: Since the Vols’ 45-10 loss to Alabama in 2013, they’ve gotten closer and closer to pulling off an upset each season. Last year, Alabama needed a pair of spectacular catches in the final five minutes to win, 19-14, at home. Now, Tennessee returns 18 starters and aerospace engineering student Josh Dobbs, who also plays a solid quarterback on Saturdays. Butch Jones’ club is the clear favorite, as of now, to win the SEC East, and I think this is the year it breaks through. I see the Vols entering at least 6-1, which means the atmosphere in Knoxville is sure to be wild. Loss.
- LSU: The Tigers haven’t scored more than 17 points on Alabama since 2010, and haven't had a 300-yard passer since 2013 against Furman. LSU's lack of a passing game really benefits Alabama here, obviously. All focus then turns to Leonard Fournette, and it rarely works out in your favor when an Alabama defense can do that. Win.
So after breaking these games down, I'm standing at a push and a 10-2 regular season. I'm staying away from putting anything down on this over/under.