All the early indications point to another dominant season from the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The reigning two-time champions of American college football launched their season on Saturday and for the next few months, Alabama have largely an easy ride back to the Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game and a third straight title.
For starters, the Crimson Tide have depth on both sides of the ball, highlighted by the return of star quarterback A.J. McCarron and an exceptional head coach in Nick Saban who is looking for a third championship in the last four years.
Alabama’s schedule looks conducive to a strong campaign with their trickiest games being against South Eastern Conference rivals, the Louisiana State University Tigers, under coach Les Miles, and the Texas A & M Aggies, who feature 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
Not many programs can adequately challenge Alabama. Coaching legend Urban Meyer has to prove the Ohio State Buckeyes’ unbeaten season, under National Collegiate Athletic Association sanctions, was no fluke.
The Oregon Ducks, with QB Marcus Mariota, have a spectacular offense but their defense remains iffy. The Louisville Cardinals have depth on offense and a favorable schedule but their success hinges on the health of QB Teddy Bridgewater.
The fact is most programs were weakened after losing players to the pro ranks. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish figure to struggle without talents like Manti Te’o, the Michigan Wolverines need a year to adjust to life without athletic specimen Denard Robinson and the Oklahoma Sooners could struggle to score points without QB Landry Jones.
Pigskin lovers in the Cayman Islands should see a pair of Florida-based programs stay relevant this season. While the Florida Gators were embarrassed in last year’s Sugar Bowl, the offense should improve under QB Jeff Driskel. The Florida State Seminoles, without QB E.J. Manuel, have a strong enough running attack to grind out victories.