Alabama Football: A mostly serious look at the toughest 2018 opponents

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
2 of 5
Alabama football QB, Jalen Hurts
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

No. 9 – LSU

What magic will the duo of Joe Alleva and Ed Orgeron weave in 2018? Not much by lofty LSU standards. The worst AD-Head Coach duo in the SEC could be in for a very tough season.

The schedule alone makes 2018 tougher than recent seasons. The Bengal Tigers could have three to as many as five losses before Alabama football travels to Baton Rouge in November. The opener is against Miami in Dallas. In September, LSU has Auburn on the road and Ole Miss at home. October brings a trip to Florida, followed by Georgia and Mississippi State at home.

New offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger will be a better fit with Coach O than Matt Canada. The Alleva-arranged marriage of Orgeron and Canada was doomed by the football equivalent of a prenup. Canada was given the prerogative of bypassing Orgeron and treating Alleva as his boss. The sideline will be better in 2018 but the on-field play could easily be worse.

The Bengal Tigers must replace QB Danny Etling, RB, Derrius Guice, OL Will Clapp and WR, D J Chark on offense. LSU must also replace two very good cornerbacks in Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver.

As always, LSU will have a deep group of talented athletes. And again the Bengal Tigers may not have a game-winner at quarterback. If Miles Brennan is an improvement over Danny Etling, the season could bring eight or nine wins. If Brennan is not, the win total could dip as low as six or seven.

No. 8 – Texas A&M

For $75 million guaranteed, the Aggies followers and more importantly the big donors are expecting championships. As only one of four active coaches to have won a national championship, Jimbo Fisher might be up to the task. Doing it quickly is an altogether different proposition.

Jimbo will get maybe two seasons of a honeymoon when losing to Alabama football. That is if he wins eight or nine other games. By year three Jimbo will need to leapfrog the Crimson Tide and Auburn and at least reach the SEC Championship game.

Jimbo has two talented quarterbacks to choose from in Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond. Even after losing Christian Kirk to the NFL, the wide receiver group will be strong, led by Kendrick Rogers and Jhamon Ausbon. If Trayveon Williams stays healthy, the Aggies will be fine at running back.

As has been the case for years, the Aggies may not be much improved on defense. Two true freshmen may start in the secondary. The biggest problems for Jimbo will be youth and depth. He will need to develop players quickly to reach an eight-win season. Some experts are predicting a rosy nine or ten wins.

Prediction: There will be no upset in Bryant-Denny. The Crimson Tide should win by two touchdowns or more.