For 99% of the 2016 season, Alabama Football was undefeated. Up until the last second of the last game of the season in the 2017 National Title Game against Clemson, Alabama Football was perfect. A two-yard touchdown pass from Clemson Quarterback Deshaun Watson to Hunter Renfrow with one-second left on the clock stopped Alabama from winning what would have been their fifth National Title under Head Coach Nick Saban.
While the reigning National Champions reside in Clemson, South Carolina, the King of College Football is still Alabama you could argue with ease. No team in college football has won more National Titles since Saban's arrival and no team has won more games than Alabama in that same time period.
For the last 10-seasons, the SEC has won seven National Championships, LSU in 2007, Florida in 2008, Auburn in 2010, Alabama in 2009, 2011, 2012, and in 2015. During that stretch, the Crimson Tide is 36-4 against SEC teams winning the SEC Championship in 2009, 2012, 2014, 2015, and again in 2016.
What's made them successful
With any highly successful organization, it starts at the top. Now we refer to Alabama Football as an organization as Saban himself has said he runs his program like an organization. Nick Saban being the CEO has put the pieces in place yearly to forge this tremendous success which we might not see ever again in college football.
While Saban has been the main man since the 2007 season, he's dealt with a good amount of assistant coaching turnover but has still managed to find quality replacements yearly which has kept the program as the pinnacle of college football. Saban let go of former Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin just before the 2017 National Title Game, then Steve Sarkisian who was promoted to replace Kiffin as the Offensive Coordinator at Alabama bolted to the Atlanta Falcons less than a month after the season.
In 2015 Kirby Smart who was Alabama's Defensive Coordinator was hired to coach the Georgia Bulldogs, in 2013 Dough Nussmeier who was Alabama’s Offensive Coordinator left for Michigan, in 2011 Jim McElwain who was the Offensive Coordinator left Alabama to be the Head Coach at Colorado State.
You get the picture and all during that time, Alabama has not skipped a beat talent wise. The organization has continued to win at the highest level, recruit at the highest level, and the resiliency that Saban has shown losing key coaches and still being able to be successful is further proof that he’s the main reason they continue to win.
What To Expect This Season
Expectations are again high for Alabama throughout the Nation and how could they not be with eleven starters from the 2016 season returning into 2017. Alabama returns the SEC Offensive Player of the Year in quarterback Jalen Hurts, who as a freshman threw for 2,780-yards, 23-touchdowns, and also rushed for 954-yards with 13-touchdowns.
Alabama's running game should be one of best in the in the Nation as well with Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough each returning. Harris led the team in rushing last season with 1,037-yards, Scarbrough caught fire at the end of the year and finished with 844-yards and 11-touchdowns. The Crimson Tide have four additional running backs capable of busting open big plays, all while running behind an offensive line that could average as much as 320-pounds across the board.
On defense, Alabama loses Marlon Humphrey, Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster, Ryan Anderson, Eddie Jackson, and Dalvin Tomlinson. Each of the six defensive starters in 2016 were drafted into the NFL, but despite losing some of the best defensive talents in the Country, Alabama returns plenty of notable names.
Da’Ron Payne at 6-foot-2, 308-pounds is one of the best defensive tackles in the Nation, Linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton returns and had 64 tackles in 2016, and Minkah Fitzpatrick who had six interceptions last year returners in the secondary. The Crimson Tide also return the Nation's top punter in J.K. Scott who had a punt per average last year of 44.7 (net), a stat which led the Nation.
Alabama opens the season as a 5 1/2 point favorite over Florida State. In what many believe will be the biggest opener in college football, the two southeastern powers will meet on September 2 at the brand new Mercedes Benz Dome in Atlanta, Georgia in a game that will be featured on prime-time TV.
After the Florida State game, Alabama has a very favorable month of September hosting Fresno State, Colorado State, a trip to Vanderbilt, and then back home to close the month out against Mississippi.
The month of October presents a trip to Texas A&M on October 7, Arkansas on the 14th, and Tennessee on the 21st. Alabama has already been dubbed a 12 1/2 point favorite over the Aggies, a 28 point favorite over the Razorbacks, and a 21 point favorite against the Volunteers.
LSU heads to Tuscaloosa on November 4, Alabama then heads to Mississippi State on the 11th, then Alabama hosts Mercer just one week before the Iron Bowl against Auburn on the 25th of November.
Under Head Football Coach Nick Saban
* Saban's record at Alabama is 119-19
* Alabama has won four National Titles under Saban 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015
* Alabama's record at home under Saban is 63-7
* Alabama is 10-0 in season openers under Saban
* Saban is 10-0 against former assistant coaches turned head coaches
* Alabama is 25-8 against Top 10 teams under Saban
* Alabama is 8-4 in Bowl Games since 2007
* Alabama is 20-6 in neutral site games under Saban
* Since 2007, Alabama has never won the National Championship when entering the season No. 1 in the Preseason AP Poll
* While at Alabama, Nick Saban is 0-3 in the Sugar Bowl
* Coming off a loss, Alabama is 9-6 under Saban
Running Bo Scarbrough is listed as a 12/1 favorite to win the Heisman by Phil Steele Magazine
Quarterback Jalen Hurts is listed as a 9/1 favorite to win the Heisman by Phil Steele Magazine
Alabama is the predicted National Champ over Ohio State by Phil Steele Magazine