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

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Alabama football opponent, Mississippi State
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No. 7 – Mississippi State

Enthusiasm abounds in Starkville. Having lost the program’s most successful coach does not deter Bulldogs fans. The prevailing sentiment is Joe Moorhead could prove to be an improvement over Dan Mullin. Moorhead did work wonders with the Penn State offense. The Nittany Lions were both explosive and efficient.

Moorhead has a deep roster to work with, in his Mississippi State debut season. The Bulldogs have arguably the best dual-threat quarterback in the league. Surrounding an experienced redshirt senior QB with enough weapons is a recipe for SEC success. Four offensive line starters return along with powerful running back, Aeris Williams. The defense will be solid, maybe even stingy. Like the offense, the State defense is filled with veterans.

How fast the young receiving corps can develop is the key to the Bulldogs. Nick Fitzgerald and Aeris Williams make a powerful running duo but some passing balance will be needed.

Prediction: The Bulldogs could be a tough team in November. Not tough enough to win in Tuscaloosa though.

No. 6 – Oklahoma

Boomer Sooners will scoff at this prediction and the regular season might indicate Oklahoma is a Playoff quality team. We are very skeptical.

Lincoln Riley does not have another Baker Mayfield on the roster. In fact, his best QB candidate, Kyler Murray, might even choose a baseball career after the MLB June draft.

Riley’s other major problem and one he cannot fix is his team plays in a defense-optional league. A season of Big 12 offensive explosions says nothing about competing against Playoff defenses.

Prediction: The Sooners might sneak into a Playoff semi-final where they will lose, even if the opponent is not Alabama football.

No. 5 – Washington

Our way too early prediction is a Pac 12 return to the CFB Playoff. The Huskies make it over USC, UCLA and Stanford because Chris Peterson is the second-best coach in the college game at developing players.

Peterson returns two dynamic juniors, quarterback Jake Browning and running back, Myles Gaskin. The Huskies are deep, even deeper than last year on defense. A couple of go-to receivers must be identified, plus Browning and Gaskin must stay healthy. If all that comes together, the Huskies could add a Pac 12 title and a CFB Playoff berth.

Prediction: Washington returns to the Playoff, knocking out a Big 12 team. If the Huskies face either Clemson or Alabama football in a semi-final, they will lose.