Are the Pachyderms ready to come out of the blocks and go start to finish as the leaders? (Image by Nisa)
2015 Game By Game Prediction and Summary
By: Larry Burton
Though it’s way too early, let’s look at the schedule, make some predictions with some quick “game summaries” to boot. These predictions are based on early practice and just intuition based on years of covering a Nick Saban team.
Sept 5th – Alabama vs Wisconsin at Neutral Feild in Dallas, Texas – Both teams show some early season mistakes. Alabama has an early turnover on offense that results in three points for Wisconsin and Alabama gets burned on one long pass that results in a quick touchdown. Wisconsin proves not to be up to the task of stopping Alabama’s rushing attack and Alabama controls most of the tempo in this game.
Alabama plays two quarterbacks and neither is a clear victor but both do well enough for the Tide to roll as they do in most opening contests and Alabama gets a little Big 10 revenge in this win. Alabama 27 – Wisconsin 17.
Sept. 12th – Middle Tennessee vs Alabama in Tuscaloosa – Alabama runs at will and Alabama’s passing game has a big day as Nick Saban wants to settle the quarterback problem and let’s Lane Kiffin air it out. Both quarterbacks do well, but finally Cornwell gets a little clear distance between himself the backup to be, which would be Jacob Coker.
The defense goes three and four deep at some positions and still manage to pitch a shutout. While the defensive secondary looks to be a work in progress going in the right direction, you still have to remember this is Middle Tennessee and not the Vols. Alabama 42 – Middle Tennessee 0
Sept. 19th – Ole Miss vs Alabama in Tuscaloosa – Simply put, payback is a bitch and the Tide have been waiting to dish it out to the Rebels since last season’s defeat in Oxford. Alabama controls the game with a solid running game and Cornwell mixes enough passes in to keep the Rebs off balance.
But on the bad side for Tide fans, the defensive backfield shows some problems to be ironed out with penalties and they are giving up too many third down conversions and that clearly doesn’t sit well with Nick Saban. The prediction is, they give the rest of the SEC the game plan that to beat the Tide the easiest way is to go through to the defensive secondary. Last season Ole Miss won 23-17 and this year Alabama returns the favor 31-17.
Sept. 26th – Louisiana Monroe vs Alabama in Tuscaloosa – This isn’t the same kind of dangerous Louisiana Monroe team that once defeated the mighty Tide and players want to remind the Warhawks that an Elephant never forgets. This game goes exactly as it should with the Tide moving the ball at will including some exciting long plays.
While the secondary still gives up a few plays on third down, they seem to be coming around. The question is, will they look this good against their next SEC opponent? Alabama 42 – Louisiana Monroe 3.
Oct. 3rd – Alabama vs Georgia at Athens – Most thinks this could only be round one as these two teams could very well see each other again in the SEC Championship Game at the end of the season. Georgia makes the big mistake of thinking they can run on the Tide as Ohio State did in the national championship playoffs last season, but though Chubbs and company are no doubt good, they aren’t quite up to it.
However Alabama’s secondary was in a run stop frame of mind and gets exploited more than Kirby Smart had planned for and the Dogs are able to keep it close because the Alabama offense sputters for most of the first half. In the end though, Alabama’s quality depth helps wear down the Dogs and Bama squeaks out a win between the hedges. Alabama 27 – Georgia 24.
October 10th – Arkansas vs Alabama in Tuscaloosa – Alabama fans find it hard to believe that last season, the Crimson Tide was just plain lucky to have not lost their second game in a row in 2014 to the Hogs. Alabama’s offense was simply horrendous as Blake Sims didn’t look capable of throwing a rock in the ocean for much of the game and the running game was shut down for the most part for most of the game as well. Had Arkansas not fumbled the ball out of the end zone while trying to score, Alabama’s season would have been much different.
But that was in Arkansas with the Hogs sky high and the Tide as flat as a blown tire. This year the Tide will field a much better throwing quarterback and the game will be in Tuscaloosa. This won’t be a game the Crimson Tide will take as lightly as last season and the results will show up on the scoreboard. Alabama’s defense controls the runs and Arkansas’ passing game won’t win the day. Alabama 28 – Arkansas 17.
Oct. 17th – Alabama vs Texas A&M in College Station – Texas A&M figures the way to beat the Tide is to let the ball fly and this could be the biggest test to a still questionable secondary yet. On defense, the Aggies plan to stop the run and force the Alabama quarterback to beat them with his arm. John Chavis, the new Aggie defensive coordinator has always given Alabama fits and he plans to do that one more time.
The problem is, that while A&M has a good pass rush, they still have shaky pass defenders and the Alabama quarterbacks have a good day. Also, the passing game sets up the running game and while Chavis is one of the best, it’s just too soon to see the results. Alabama puts up just too many points and the Aggies while have some success in the air, fall short of the upset. Alabama 31 – Texas A&M 24.
Oct. 24th – Tennessee vs Alabama in Tuscaloosa – Tennessee has been watching the Alabama secondary get picked on all season and they think they have the quarterback and the offense to do more than they others have been able to do this season. They also think they have a stingier defense than the Aggies were able to field.
But like Alabama, the Vols come into this game beat up from a brutal first half schedule that included Oklahoma, Florida, Arkansas and Georgia. But unlike Alabama, they don’t have the quality depth to absorb the crush and bruises and it starts to show once the opening few series have been run. Still, they make a game out of it but Alabama wins at home as it should. Alabama 28 – Tennessee 20.
Nov. 7th, – LSU vs Alabama in Tuscaloosa – Forget the problems that LSU has had so far this season, this is a grudge game that has a life of it’s own and it will be another war. These contests are usually close fought defensive struggles and again this season, the hits will be brutal and the day will be long. But the game is really won by the tough Alabama defense.
Quarterback plays hamstrings the Tigers, but the running game keeps them in this contest along with an opportunistic defense. Ironically, the Alabama defensive secondary provides the big plays with a key pick that turns the momentum once and for all. Alabama 24 – LSU 13.
Nov. 14th – Alabama vs Mississippi State in Starkville – This could be the trap game that Alabama fans have feared. A brutal schedule has the Tide tired and beat up and this bunch of Bulldogs know it and have them in their home stadium. Dak Prescott plays one of his best games and the Tide will have to suck up all the reserve the have to try and keep pace. Prescott is just the kind of mobile quarterback that has given the Tide fits before.
This is a game that could go either way with a turnover or bad miscue. Alabama will rely on punter JK Scott to give them some added space for the defense to defend and it could be the difference. Nick Saban teams stumble each season, this could be that stumble. Alabama 27 – Mississippi State 26.
Nov. 21st. – Charleston Southern vs Alabama in Tuscaloosa – Let’s face it, this is the closest thing to an off week the Tide could have and it’s at a time that they need it the most.
Nick won’t rub it in as bad as he could and everyone in a uniform should see playing time in this one. Alabama 35 – Charleston Southern O.
Nov. 28th – Alabama vs Auburn at Auburn – This is the game that many though before the season would settle not only the SEC West, but the entire SEC. Auburn is counting on Will Muschamp to “unstink” the stinky Auburn defense of 2014.
But coaches alone won’t make up the gap between stinky and great without talent and Auburn just doesn’t have enough of that yet for the coach to make the difference. Alabama’s offense has it’s way over the still struggling defense and while the offense is good, it can’t do it alone. Alabama 34 – Auburn 24.
Dec. 5th – SEC Championship Game – Alabama vs Georgia in Atlanta – Without a week to rest, both teams show up tired, beat up and yet still anxious to prove that the winner deserves a shot at a national title contest.
It’s often said that the hardest thing for a team to do is beat the same team twice in one season and the Bulldogs feel they learned from their previous mistakes and are ready for round two. However, the Crimson Tide have learned much too and the defensive secondary has finally come around and the Alabama team is a much better one overall than faced the Bulldogs the first time around.
Alabama makes easier work of it this time around as Chubbs is hobbled with an injury and the Tide’s offense is truly on a roll. Alabama 35 – Georgia 23.
As for the playoff games, it’s still way to early to pick the other three, but this is an Alabama team that should be competitive with anyone.