14 Till 2014 is a series of articles counting the days until Alabama kickoff, when we can finally watch real football instead of scrambling for every little 30-second practice video and analyzing Nick Saban’s every word, despite knowing he’s not going to give us that much information.
To help wind down your Monday, here’s a breakdown of Alabama’s 2014 schedule that includes some analysis and predictions from yours truly. Just 12 days away from kickoff in Atlanta.
West Virginia (Atlanta, GA)
August 30th, 2:30 PM CST, ABC/ESPN2
Their 11-year bowl streak might have been snapped, but the Mountaineers are looking for a bounce back season after only collecting four wins last year. West Virginia may be more experienced this year, but need to replace three starters on the offensive line. Questionable play at the quarterback position does not bode well for them come August 30th against Alabama’s pass rush. The past two season openers for Alabama have come with mixed results. Last year’s 35-10 victory over Virginia Tech was uglier than the score indicated, and in 2012 Alabama thrashed Michigan in Dallas. I’m expecting results that will be more reminiscent of 2012, with a hungry Alabama team looking to put last year behind them.
September 6th, 11 AM CST, SEC Network
If you’re holding out for the SEC Network, then this is your deadline. This will be Alabama’s first live game on the new network, so hit up a buddy that Saturday, find a viewing party, or just pay the upgrade fee. Obviously Alabama is heavily favored, but if everything goes right we should get a nice look at the backups in the second half. Getting them more experience early in the season will pay off down the road.
September 13th, 5 PM CST, ESPN2
Southern Miss has one win in the past two seasons. That is not a typo. Starting 0-11 last year, they fended off UAB in the last game of the season. In 2012 the Golden Eagles couldn’t even get a single win, making for a 23-game losing streak. Just like with FAU, this should be a relatively easy game for Alabama with hopefully no injuries and some nice highlight plays.
September 20th, TBD
The first big home game for Alabama this season. The last time Florida came up to Tuscaloosa, the Gators left with a 31-6 loss. This may be a little different, considering Florida boasts a terrific defense that will give the Tide’s offense their first true test. Vernon Hargreaves III vs. Amari Cooper will be the matchup to watch, and will have NFL scouts drooling. Alabama should win this one by a couple touchdowns.
at Ole Miss
October 4th, TBD
In the first true road game of the season for Alabama, the Tide will visit Oxford after an off week. I touched on this match up a little bit in yesterday’s edition. This is a potential trap game for Alabama. An off week will be huge following what should be physical Florida game, as Ole Miss gets Memphis the week before the Tide roll in. Last year Alabama won 25-0. The shutout was a nice touch after Bo Wallace’s comments about being able to put points on Alabama’s defense. If I was going to pick a loss it may very well be this one, but unless Bo Wallace pulls off the game of his life – like we’ve seen with Stephen Garcia and Trevor Knight before – the Tide should escape the early season scare.
October 11th, TBD
Back-to-back road games here on the schedule for the Tide. Go ahead and write the score down 52-0, since that’s been the score the past two seasons. Arkansas will be an improved team after their 3-9 campaign last season, and stud running back Alex Collins will be the Razorback to watch in this one. Even with more experience and added talent, this matchup shouldn’t be much of a problem. I won’t go as far to say 52-0, but this should be another blowout.
October 18th, TBD
No Johnny Manziel this year for the Aggies, and the Alabama defense takes a collective sigh of relief. A&M still has plenty of talent and a very nice freshman QB, but their defense is still suspect and they lost some big pieces on offense, including Mike Evans and Jake Matthews. Barring injuries or setbacks, the Alabama offense should be hitting their stride, so I can’t see a team with a limited defense and unknown offense winning in Tuscaloosa.
October 25th, TBD
The last time Tennessee beat Alabama Nick Saban was head coach of the Miami Dolphins. There was also no iPhone and I’m pretty sure Chamillionaire was a well-known rapper. Point is, I’m not seeing anything different this year. Tennessee is making some progress and there’s a bit more excitement in Knoxville these days, but the last time Tennessee didn’t lose to Alabama by 30+ points was the epic 2009 clash. This year will be closer but it will be a solid win nonetheless.
November 8th, TBD
It does not matter how LSU is performing or how great Alabama is playing, when these two teams meet in Baton Rouge crazy things happen. A lot of LSU’s questions entering the year will be answered, and the young defense will have matured a bit more. I called Ole Miss the trap game, but we all know the big road game circled on our calendars this year. I will be very surprised if Alabama manages to blow out LSU in Death Valley and wouldn’t be surprised at all if we left with our first loss.
November 15th, TBD
LSU hangover alert. Alabama hasn’t looked solid the past few years in the week after LSU, and with Mississippi State playing Bama tougher lately, it’s time for another upset watch. Even though the Bulldogs haven’t beaten Alabama since 2007, they still play very confidently and motivated whenever these schools match up. This will be a classic SEC football, grind it out kind of game, where winning probably won’t be pretty.
November 22nd, TBD
The Tide get a much-needed break after a couple tough games against LSU and MSU, and will gladly welcome Western Carolina to town before Auburn. What can I say except: please no injuries, and get on the right track before the game of the year.
November 29th, TBD
If Auburn manages to show up in Tuscaloosa undefeated (something I doubt happens, but we’ll save that for another time) then this looks like the game of the year. After last year’s game-winning play, Alabama has revenge and another chance for a national championship on their mind. Alabama gets the win this time around in what should be a crazy atmosphere.
All in all, this could be a fun season or a bumpy ride. The Mississippi schools – okay, not Southern Miss – will give the Tide some trouble, and you can never count out LSU. Of course we have the Iron Bowl as well. On paper, Alabama matches up well with almost every team, but part of the beauty of football (specifically SEC Football) is that you have to bring it every week. If Alabama overcomes this schedule and enters postseason play with an undefeated record, then they should be the favorites to win it all.