Steve Spurrier, Braxton Miller and Mark Helfrich all have shots at BCS glory this year. (Getty Images)
As we close in on the season (nine days until real, honest football!), people are going to start making their BCS title game predictions. Alabama is a dominating preseason number one and attempting to do something unprecedented in the sport by winning three straight AP titles.
But the Crimson Tide have a potential weakness or two, just like every other team ranked near the top of the polls. Today we’re going to conduct an exercise in nit-picking those problems, taking an overly critical take on the best teams in the country. What we’re not doing is saying “Your team sucks because of these flaws.” False, these teams are all really good at football. We’re also not saying “There are no replacements for the departed players or solutions to the problems.” Some of these issues won’t be issues at all, and some of the difficult schedules mentioned will end up softening once the games actually start. This is just a look at some Achilles’ heels that could potentially derail the championship aspirations of the AP’s top ten teams. Haters, after all, are going to hate.
They have to replace three incredible players on the offensive line. Guard Chance Warmack was the tenth pick in the NFL draft, tackle DJ Fluker was the eleventh overall selection and Barrett Jones was the starter on three national championship teams and the winner of last year’s Rimington Trophy as the best center in the nation. Nick Saban can choose from his roster of blue-chip replacements, but it could take a few critical weeks for this year’s unit to begin working as well together as 2012’s grind-it-out war machine
On the other side of the ball, they’ll need to find a replacement for cornerback Dee Milliner (the ninth overall pick in the draft – Alabama was pretty good last year!) and linemen Jesse Williams, Damion Square and Quinton Dial.
Also, I don’t know, maybe complacency? [looks at photo of angry Saban] Okay, maybe not that last one.
2) Ohio State
They return only four starters from a defense that wasn’t very good last year and have to replace six of their front seven. (They do retain the services of linebacker Ryan Shazier, who led the team in tackles and sacks in 2012.) The offense revolves around quarterback Braxton Miller to such an absurd degree that any serious injury to him will likely result in doom for Urban Meyer’s spread attack, even with stud freshmen like Dontre Wilson joining the fold.
The reputation of the Big Ten coupled with an uninspiring out-of-conference slate means that unlike Meyer’s two title teams at Florida, the Buckeyes will most likely not be able to afford a loss and still play for the championship game. Despite the relative ease of the schedule, there are a bunch of tricky road trips, including California, Northwestern, Michigan and yes, Purdue, a team that has knocked off the Buckeyes two of the last four years and took them to overtime last fall.
Continue Reading: Red flags: Assessing the flaws of BCS title contenders (Dr. Saturday)