The Alabama Crimson Tide are once again at the top of the college football world. The 2021 National Champions demolished the Ohio State Buckeyes by a final score of 52-28. This was Alabama’s third national title over the past seven seasons and their sixth title over the past twelve seasons. Will Alabama be able to win the National Championship in 2022?
Alabama’s offense was unstoppable this season. The Crimson Tide averaged 48.5 points per game. However, they will be losing lots of players from their historically great unit. They will likely have to replace Mac Jones, Najee Harris, Alex Leatherwood, Devonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle. All of those players could be first-round picks. However, this season they had to replace four players that were top 15 picks in the 2020 NFL draft. Alabamas offense got even better despite losing Tua Tagovailoa, Jedrick Wills, Henry Ruggs, and Jerry Jeudy. Talent shouldn’t be an issue for Alabama next season because they recruit so well.
Steve Sarkisian spent the past two seasons at Alabama as the team’s offensive coordinator. Alabama averaged 45.7 and 48.5 points per game in those two seasons respectively. Now that he accepted the head coaching job at the University of Texas, the Crimson Tide will have to replace Sarkisian. Alabama is expected to hire Bill O’Brien as the team’s new offensive coordinator. O’Brien had an embarrassing ending as the Houston Texans head coach, but he has had some success at the collegiate level. O’Brien was Penn State’s head coach from 2012-2013 when the team was dealing with numerous NCAA sanctions. O’Brien went 15-9 with Penn State during that time.
The Crimson Tide will also have to replace some key players from their national championship-winning defense. Christian Barmore, Patrick Surtain, Josh Jobe, and Dylan Moses could all be first-round picks in the 2021 NFL draft. Despite that, Alabama won’t be a pushover on defense any time soon with Nick Saban at the helm and an extremely talented roster.
While Alabamas defenses have still been very good, you could argue they recently haven’t been amongst the best in the nation. They used to routinely have one of if not the best defenses in the entire country. Let’s take a look at where Alabama has ranked in yards allowed per game over the past few seasons:
2015-2016: 1st in yards allowed per game
2016-2017: 2nd in yards allowed per game
2017-2018: 1st in yards allowed per game
2018-2019: 15th in yards allowed per game
2019-2020: 23rd in yards allowed per game
2020-2021: 32nd in yards allowed per game
Defense is no longer the main reason why Alabama is a dominant team. College football is more high scoring now than it has ever been. Due to the uptick in offensive production around the sport, we can’t expect Alabama’s defense to hold all of their opponents under 20 points anymore. However, their defensive performance against Ohio State was exceptional. Before the national title game, the Buckeyes scored 49 points against the Clemson Tigers. Alabama held Ohio State to just 28 points. The Crimson Tide had to face off against Justin Fields, who could be a top-two selection in the upcoming NFL draft. Let’s compare how Fields fared against both Clemson and Alabama.
Justin Fields against Clemson: Six touchdowns, one interception, 385 yards, 13.8 yards per pass attempt.
Justin Fields against Alabama: One touchdown, 0 interceptions, 194 yards 5.9 yards per pass attempt.
I’m not sure if Alabama’s defense can play like that against explosive offenses on a consistent basis. However, when they do they are unbeatable because of how good their offense has become.
Alabama will have a plethora of interesting games in 2021. Let’s analyze their toughest scheduled games.
(neutral site) vs Miami:
The Miami Hurricanes started off this season with an 8-1 record. However, they lost their final two games of 2020 and went 0-3 against teams that finished the season ranked. D’Eriq King, who will be in his 6th collegiate season, could give Alabama some trouble. Despite that, the Crimson Tide should be expected to win this game with ease because of their superior overall talent.
This will be a rematch of the 2020 SEC title game. This game will look very different than the game that took place in Atlanta. As previously mentioned, Alabama is losing lots of players from this season’s team, but so is Florida. The Gators will have to replace Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney, and Trevon Grimes. Alabama deserves the benefit of the doubt and should be expected to win this game.
At Texas A&M:
This will be the toughest game on Alabama’s schedule. Texas A&M finished this season ranked 4th in the entire country and they have an amazing home crowd. However, they will have to replace Kellen Mond and some of the members on their tremendous offensive line. Jimbo Fisher has an 0-4 career record against Nick Saban. After this game, Fisher will be 0-5 against the seven-time national champion.
LSU is always one of the most talented teams in the SEC. They are also the last team to beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa. However, that was when they had Joe Burrow. Additionally, the Tigers are coming off of a disappointing 5-5 season. Alabama should win this game in a dominating fashion.
This is arguably the greatest rivalry in all of sports. As always, Alabama vs Auburn will be very intense, but we shouldn’t expect Bryan Harsin to win his first Iron Bowl. Auburn won’t have the talent to match up with Alabama and I’m not a believer in Bo Nix because of how inconsistent he is.
Despite playing in the SEC, the best conference in college football, we should expect Alabama to finish next regular season undefeated. Even with a loss, the Crimson Tide could still appear in the College Football Playoff. The Crimson Tide appeared in the 2018 College Football Playoff despite having one regular-season loss and not appearing in the SEC title game. Alabama went on to win the national title that season. Will Alabama be able to win another national title next season? They will have to replace lots of talent, but they have done that before. Regardless, it’s very hard to bet against Nick Saban.