The 2016 college football season is almost here and it’s time to start looking ahead. With only a few weeks to go until the first games are played, there is a lot of early speculation on the teams that have a legitimate chance to win the National Championship. Not surprisingly, last year’s champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide, are in the running once again.
Las Vegas sports books are listing Alabama as 7/1 favorites to win the College Football Championship game to be played on January 11th, 2017.
But wait. Didn’t the Tide just lose a major portion of their team either through graduation or to the NFL? Sure they did, but this is college football we are talking about.
In the college game, the good teams just retool with a fresh batch of prized recruits who are just waiting in the wings. If you don’t think that Alabama can recruit, you just don’t know the game.
Head Coach Nick Saban is a master coach and a terrific recruiter. Given the fact that he sends a regular batch of players to the NFL, and you were a coveted recruit, why would you not want to play for him?
Don’t think that Alabama does not have returning talent. On offense there is Calvin Ridley at wide receiver. As a freshman last season, all he did was catch 89 balls for 1,045 yards and 7 touchdowns. However, with quarterback Jake Coker having graduated, the question is who will get him the ball this season.
On defense, remember the name Reuben Foster. He figures to be an early favorite for the Butkus award as college football’s best linebacker. After taking over as a starter last year he totaled 73 tackles which was second on the team.
Saban’s biggest task will be to development a quarterback or at least find consistency there. Candidates include Cooper Bateman, Blake Barnett, David Cornwell or Jalen Hurts. Finding the right guy could be the key to a successful season.
To get to the championship game, the Tide will need to go undefeated or lose no more than one game depending how the rest of the college football teams fare. With a young team and with some key leaders no longer there, it will be a tough task.
A key contest will be their November 5th game against rival LSU in Baton Rouge. The Tigers are expected to be strong this season and the game comes at the end of a string of three out of four road games for the Tide.
Should they get past that game, their last three games will be played at home in Tuscaloosa.
So to answer the question – “Can Alabama Repeat as National Champions”, the Vegas odds makers are thinking they can.
It will be the play on the field that will decide if that is true. The returning players will need to step into leadership roles and the hotshot recruits will need to show that the bright lights won’t faze them. Don’t forget a great and experienced coaching staff. Don’t bet against them.
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