If one thing is certain about the 2018-19 version of the Alabama Crimson Tide, it’s that they will once again be contenders for yet another national championship. Four times under head coach Nick Saban, they have found themselves ranked as the top-ranked team preseason, and again boast that poll positioning entering into the upcoming college football season.
With a perennial embarrassment of 5-star riches, the Tide typically replace top-flight athlete with more of the same at each position, and the same is true of this season. College football spreads, while early, currently favor Alabama to repeat as national champions, led by what many assume to be a frontrunner for the Heisman after his dazzling performance in the title game, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Alabama’s leading rusher from last season, Berea, Kentucky native Damien Harris, was thought to perhaps be leaning toward staying in the NFL draft, but ultimately elected to return to Tuscaloosa for his senior campaign.
Granted, Bama is never in short supply of talented running backs, but with the departure of Bo Scarborough to the NFL, the Crimson Tide would have been without a proven running back familiar with what it takes to grind toward a national championship.
Top receiver, Calvin Ridley, forewent his senior season and was a first round NFL draft selection by the Atlanta Falcons. While it makes sense that he’d leave early, Ridley’s decision leaves a glaring vacancy in the receiving corps. In fact, the most experienced Bama wide receiver this upcoming season only managed to reel in 14 catches for 264 yards in 2017-18.
Georgia was a more-than-worthy foe in both the SEC title game and the National Title game, but the Bulldogs, while favored to emerge from the SEC East, have more work to do to be considered title contenders for a consecutive season. Losing their dynamic running back tandem of Sony Michele and Nick Chubb coupled with a bevy of defensive departures, makes it more of an uphill climb to the playoff picture for the Dawgs in 2018-19. However, securing the top-ranked recruiting class may offset all of that; time will tell.
All of that matters, because Georgia’s success could determine Alabama’s, especially if both made it back to the SEC championship game in Atlanta, and Georgia were to win. Though last season, both UGA and Bama still secured a playoff. Obviously there are always variables, which could make such a scenario more complicated than it was previously.
Lest we put the proverbial cart before the proverbial horse, there are teams experts think have a realistic chance to unseat both Alabama and Georgia, both within the conference and outside of it. Clemson, a preseason favorite to win the ACC, returns a lot of talent, and we’ve seen their capability to take down the mighty Tide on the biggest stage. Clemson has a rivalry week matchup with South Carolina at the end of the regular season, a game most think South Carolina should have a legitimate chance to win (the Gamecocks are also thought to be the biggest threat to UGA in the SEC East as well), potentially altering the the college football playoff picture dramatically. Auburn is in a similar position in the SEC West.
Still other such as Ohio State, Miami, Oklahoma, and more of the usual suspects all have legitimate chances to reach the four-team college football playoff in 2018-19, and it’s all but guaranteed to be another memorable race to the finish, though it will be difficult to top the playoff theatrics of this past season. College football spreads list Clemson and Ohio State right behind Alabama with 5-1 odds of a national title, with Georgia and Michigan following them. Either way, Nick Saban again has the Tide poised for another addition to the trophy case.