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2021 Alabama college football preview: Nick Saban reloads as national title favorite

Alabama turns over a bunch of talent on offense, but the Crimson Tide should have no issue putting together another excellent season.

NCAA Football: Alabama - A-Day Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

The Alabama Crimson Tide were hardly challenged at all in 2020 as they ran the table with ease for their sixth championship since 2009. Since the season ended, Alabama signed the best recruiting class in the history of the online ranking era, and Nick Saban signed an extension. So, you know, another year in Tuscaloosa.

The Crimson Tide will need to replace a ton of talent, but according to bettors that doesn’t matter. Alabama returns about half of their starters from last season, and they are still the betting favorites to win it all on DraftKings Sportsbook.

2020 Season Review

  • 13-0, 10-0 SEC, Won SEC Championship Game (52-46 vs. Florida), Won Rose Bowl (31-14 vs. Notre Dame), Won CFP National Championship (52-24 vs. Ohio State)
  • Won 12 of 13 games by at least 15 points, scored 40 or more points 11 times

2021 Talent

2021 247Sports Composite Ranking: 1
ESPN Returning Production: 55% overall (110th): 33% offense (126th), 77% defense (41st)
Returning Talent Index: 1.59, 3rd in SEC
Returning starters: 3/11 offense, 8/11 defense
* All rankings out of 130 FBS schools

Key Player

Quarterback: Bryce Young (Sophomore)

Alabama’s offense changed years ago and instead of running the ball and playing good defense, the Crimson Tide transitioned into a high-flying passing game to showcase Saban’s ability to transition on the fly. Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones were the last two quarterbacks in this offense, and both were drafted in the first round. We wouldn’t bet against Bryce Young joining that first round group. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown last season.

Offense (non-QB): WR John Metchie III (Junior)

Alabama’s high-flying offense featured wide receivers Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith, Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy at some point the past two years. John Metchie III appears to be the next star wideout for this program. He was overshadowed by Smith last season and rightfully so as a Heisman winner, but Metchie caught 55 passes for 916 yards and six touchdowns. He should lead this receiving corps in 2021 and be on his way to the NFL.

Defense: OLB Will Anderson Jr. (Sophomore)

Alabama’s defense is still a fantastic group despite the change in philosophy, and outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr. will lead this defense after a fantastic true freshman season. He finished with 10.5 tackles for loss with seven sacks, both of which led the team. Anderson should be one of the top linebackers in the entire country in 2021 and is an entertaining player to watch.

Team Stats Projections

2020 SP+ final: 1st overall: 1st offense, 6th defense, 13th special teams
2021 SP+ projection: 1st overall: 4th offense, 4th defense

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

To win national title: +225
To win SEC: -167
Win total: 11.5 (Over -105, Under -115)

2020 Against The Spread: 9-4-0
2020 Point Total: Over 7-5-1

2021 Alabama Schedule

2021 Alabama Football Schedule

Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Saturday, Sep. 4 vs. Miami (Mercedes-Benz, ATL) 3:30 pm/ABC Bama -18
Saturday, Sep. 11 Mercer 4:00pm/SECN N/A
Saturday, Sep. 18 at Florida 3:30 pm/CBS Bama -13.5
Saturday, Sep. 25 Southern Miss TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 2 Ole Miss TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 9 at Texas A&M TBA Bama -11.5
Saturday, Oct. 16 at Mississippi State TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 23 Tennessee TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 30 OPEN TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 6 LSU TBA Bama -22.5
Saturday, Nov. 13 New Mexico State TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 20 Arkansas TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 27 at Auburn TBA Bama -18