As it should be, Alabama Football is the 2022 favorite to win the SEC and National Championships. Rankings and odds at this point, are mostly for entertainment value and nothing more. We attend to them despite knowing predictions for some teams will ultimately be far from the mark. The predictions do, however, bring us a good overview of what will probably happen in the 2022 season.
A recent preseason ranking by CBS Sports is interesting because it has six SEC teams in its Top 15. Alabama is No. 1; Georgia No. 3; Texas A&M is No. 7; Arkansas No. 10; Ole Miss No. 13 and Tennessee No. 15.
Given the Tide plays four of those teams in the regular season, plus a CBS-ranked No. 17, Texas, indicates the Crimson Tide might lose a game. Even without using such a ranking as a guide, an undefeated season is such a rarity, I predicted the Tide would not be undefeated in the 2021 season. I will probably make the same prediction for 2022, despite believing the chances are better for the coming season.
My strong belief is I deeply doubt any team other than Ohio State can beat the Tide. And that is not something I expect the Buckeyes will do. To the extent the Crimson Tide has weaknesses, it will still be the most effective team in college football on offense and defense. I am also willing to give the Georgia Bulldogs an outside shot at taking down the Tide.
Otherwise, forget it – unless one or more of four things bring peril to the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Follow along below for an explanation of each way the Tide could be upset.
No. 1 Alabama Football Loses Bryce Young to a season-ending injury
There are good reasons to have confidence in Jalen Milroe and the inexperienced potential of Ty Simpson. Given enough game action in advance, I think a Milroe-led Tide could beat most teams on its regular-season schedule. By the second half of the season, if Simpson can get enough meaningful game work, I think the Tide could win with him, should Young and Milroe both be lost to injury.
In the SEC Championship Game and the Playoffs, Alabama could win with Milroe, but I doubt it could with Simpson. Unless Young goes down early, Simpson will not get enough game reps with the first unit to be prepared.
No. 2 Bizarre Bad Luck Drowns Tide in Key Game
Luck, both good and bad, is a frequent factor in what team wins a certain game and holds post-season championship trophies. Over the years, the Alabama Crimson Tide has experienced both.
A recount of many of them is not necessary. Two examples will suffice. The reason Auburn beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 2010 was not that Cam Newton had a sensational performance. He did, but the outcome resulted from two bad-luck-caused plays.
When the ball was punched out of Mark Ingram’s arms as he was racing to a touchdown, and somehow bounced over and over, inbounds for 20-plus yards, that result was so improbable, it can only be defined as bizarre bad luck. The result was points off the board for the Tide in a one-point loss.
The other play was an underthrown long pass by Newton that was well defended by Mark Barron. The ball could have been and should have been intercepted, except Barron could not lift one arm much above the waist. He injured it late in the first half and did not disclose the severity of the injury in the Alabama locker room. The result was points on the board for Auburn.
No. 3 Alabama could beat itself in a game
As good as the Crimson Tide will be in 2022, even with a full season of no lasting injuries to key players, it could still lose by beating itself.
Like all humans, players make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes come in pivotal moments of a game and they cannot be overcome.
Alabama will not lose in 2022 because it faces a better roster or because it gets out-schemed through a better coaching performance. The Tide will also not be -out-executed in a loss – unless it makes enough grievous mistakes to allow a well-performing, talented opponent to tip the scales.
No. 4 The odds of the following are so small
Something seriously bad happens to Nick Saban’s health. There are absolutely no indications Nick Saban is not the healthiest 70-year-old in sports. Every observation suggests both physically and mentally Nick Saban will be able to excel for many more years.
But, his age does bring with it some vulnerability. Alabama can beat most of the teams on its schedule without Nick Saban on the sidelines. He can even beat most teams without him being able to do game prep and practices. Beyond that, against an Ohio State or Georgia, or maybe even in an SEC road game, the leadership void of no Saban might prove too much.
Steve Sarkisian handled the task in an important Iron Bowl. Could Bill O’Brien do the same on an even bigger stage?
I touched on odds at the top of the post. What strikes me about them now, is why, for example, bet on a perennial cellar dweller. On winning the 2020 SEC Championship I have seen odds on Vanderbilt from 500/1 to 10,000/1. In my mind, 1,000,000/1 would not tempt me to wager on Vandy and I have always had a fondness for the Dores.