Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Finebaum plays it safe...

...picks Bama to go 8-4. I'm pretty sure that's the same record he had us with last season, but I can't find his column (if someone knows where to find it, put a link in the comments please) to verify. There's a good bit of homerism in this and a lot of Bama optimism, but I can seriously see Bama going undefeated this season. I said it last year and, until depth issues and Shula's insistence on living and dying by Brodie Croyle's arm bogged us down late in the season, it looked like I would be proven right. Still, 10-2 is a good way to end up even if one of those 2 is (yet another) loss to the Barn, and is also at least two more wins than all the talking heads expected. So here are Finebaum's predictions, and my thoughts:

-- Sept. 2: Hawaii -- Incredibly, Alabama lost to Hawaii in 2003 on the island. It won't happen this time around on the mainland ... Alabama 28-9.

It really wasn't that incredible considering Timmy Chang was behind center for the Warriors and Kines was still wearing his "bend but don't break" hat against the same Hawaii offense that engaged a 9-3 Bama with a top ranked defense in a 21-16 thriller the previous year. I agree it won't be happening again though; Kines took the "bend but don't break" hat off and went by the local Spencer's for a "Rock Out With Your Cock Out" one after that debacle and hasn't looked back since. This will probably be a deja vu game for Bama; all of Hawaii's scoring should come in the first half before Kines makes the necessary adjustments at the break for a second half shut out. Bama's offense won't be settled 'til the third quarter either, but once they start clicking look for the Tide to start pulling away. 28-9 sounds about right.

-- Sept. 9: Vanderbilt -- This is not Jay Cutler's Vandy team from 2005, luckily for the Tide ... Alabama 24-7.

Luckily for the Tide? If we held Texas Tech's passing attack to 10 points, I'm pretty sure we could have held a Cutler led Vandy to roughly the same. I'm just saying. Anyway, only at Vanderbilt can losing six straight after a four win start be considered "storybook," but they did keep UT out of a bowl to finish up so there is that. They aren't due for any measurable hype for another decade so Bama it is, 31-3.

-- Sept. 16: Louisiana-Monroe -- This should be a nice off week for the Tide as it prepares for the meat of the SEC schedule ... Alabama 49-6.

No arguments there, but Shula seems classy enough to keep from running up a score on a hopelessly outmatched opponent. Look for Guillon or Barnes (or both...) to run the clock out in the second half. Bama, 28-7.

-- Sept. 23: at Arkansas -- Two years ago, the Tide lost at Arkansas in what may have been the turning point of the season. This game could go a long way in determining whether Alabama has a good season ... Alabama 19-17.

This is going to be a game. Nutt will presumably be on the hot seat this season and should come into this game with some momentum after cupcake wins at home against Utah State and in Nashville against Vandy. This will be JP's first real taste of the road life in the SEC, but leading a scoring drive at Auburn in last year's Iron Bowl showed he can handle a hostile crowd. The Hawg's depth at running back concerns me and will be a serious test for an inexperienced linebacking corp. Close game, but not that close. Bama pulls away in the 4th, 24-13.

-- Sept. 30: Florida -- This is a revenge game of epic proportions and Alabama will finally fall ... Florida 28-20.

Finebaum seems pretty sure that Meyer won't lose to Shula again, but considering Shula's been nothing but underestimated from the get go that's to be expected. This is definitely a revenge game, but not the way he's looking at it. Florida's won 6 of the last 10, so we've still got some revenging to do. Bama, 21-17.

-- Oct. 7: Duke -- Coming off a 1-10 record, this will be a long road trip for the Duke players and a most enjoyable afternoon for those wearing Crimson ... Alabama 38-3.

Not much to argue with here.

-- Oct. 14: Ole Miss -- The Rebels nearly stunned Alabama last year in Oxford and should make this one interesting for three quarters ... Alabama 24-13.

Again, not much to argue with here. Orgeron will once again have the Rebels scaring the SEC powers, but not much more.

-- Oct. 21: at Tennessee -- Do you remember the last time Alabama beat Tennessee two consecutive years? Well, how about 1991-1992? It won't happen this year, either ... Tennessee 21-17.

Bull. Shit. Cutcliffe might be back, but it's still the same offense they've been running since their national title. Give Cutcliffe a few years and he might groom another Peyton Manning, but DCs throughout the SEC have these schemes cold. Bama, 21-7.

-- Oct. 28: Florida International -- In case you're wondering, this will not be a tough ticket in Tuscaloosa ... Alabama 51-7.

Not much to argue with but the score since this is homecoming and the starters will be riding the bench for most of the game. Bama, 31-0.

-- Nov. 4: Mississippi State -- Is this the year Sly Croom finally turns the corner in Starkville? The Bullies will be better but still not good enough ... Alabama 20-12.

I doubt the Bullies will be better considering the thug issue has once again reared it's ugly head in Starkville. Look for Croom to boot half the team before fall practice. Bama, 28-10.

-- Nov. 11: at LSU -- The Tigers will be among the teams to beat in the SEC, but the Tide usually plays them well in Baton Rouge ... LSU 20-13.

Death Valley has never been all that deadly for the Tide, and about now is when we find out if LSU is for real or just a Nick Saban zombie. I'm betting Miles showed his true colors against UT last season. Bama, 20-13.

-- Nov. 18: Auburn -- Once again, Tommy Tuberville makes Bryant-Denny Stadium his favorite stadium in the SEC other than home. The streak moves to five in a row over the Tide and "Fear the Thumb" T-shirts are hotter items in Auburn than Christmas trees. Last year, in this space, I picked Auburn 28-17 (the final was 28-18). This year ... Auburn 24-16.

The only fear anyone should have from an Auburn thumb is the stench it produces after being pulled from their collective asses. There's no weak OL to run through this time around, Tubby, so your Chizikless defense will have to actually do more than just blitz. Look for Borges to cook up a couple of quick scores early in, but then watch as the Tide defense stiffens and a healthy Bama offense prevails. Bama, 21-17.

Fear the thumb? Not if he has anything to say about it.


Blogger TNIRISHFAN said...

You guys lose to Tennessee this year you better just fold the program. They are going to suck again this year I hope.

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finebaum's regular season prediction for 2005 was 7-4.

7:07 PM  
Blogger Todd Jones said...

with the addition of the extra game it's roughly the same pick. I know he had us losing to the same four (UT, Florida, LSU and AU).

7:21 PM  
Blogger TNIRISHFAN said...

You guys are going to go undefeated then? Who will you have to play in the SEC championship game then?
What is you weakest link on offense and on defense? I have a friend from college and a brother in law that both love BAMA. I root for them 1 game a year at least. Against UT.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Newspaper Hack said...

I knew Bama was going to be great last year, and I predicted a possible undefeated season with two caveats: 1) Croyle stays healthy and 2) the O-line keeps it together. As was proven, No. 2 fell apart after the Mississippi State game. There are a lot more question marks this year, so I see about three losses. But hopefully that won't happen. I die a little every time Bama drops a game.

Thank God I don't die a little every time a wideout drops a pass.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Todd Jones said...

i'm not positive we'll go undefeated but i think the schedule is favorable for it and there's a real opportunity to build on the success from last season. it's too early to really say how we'll perform. who knows what shula and rader will do with the offense or how a young defense is going to mature before heading to the swamp, and how the rest of the SEC is going to shake out.

weakest link on offense is the qb position, but with the depth we have in the backfield it should take a lot of the burden off of jp's shoulders. he's thrown too many picks in scrimmage so hopefully shula and rader will take advantage of all the playmakers (darby, mcclain, castille, johns, coffer, upchurch) at running and half back to keep us from a position where we have to throw to win. also the TE position is looking strong and we've been using them more in the passing game which should add an extra wrinkle to the offense. most SEC teams don't utilize the TE in the passing game so that should pose a few problems for opposing defenses.

defense we lose seven starters, but luckily the majority of this group have some playing time under their belts. simeon castille and robinson have proven themselves already and simpson will be the new ryans in the linebacking corp (he's already on the lott watch list, which ryans won last year). there are some young players out there, but with three cupcakes to bulk up on before heading to fayetteville they'll get older quick. my biggest worry is defending the run. we've gone the "fly to the ball" speed route these past two seasons since our strength lay with the linebackers and secondary instead of the usual d-line like most SEC defenses, so any team that will buck up and pound the ball should be able to move the ball on us fairly consistently (which is why i'm nervous about arkansas). i wouldn't be surprised to see florida again in atlanta, but i think spurrier has a fighting chance to get there too. uga will probably choke and ut will be an 8 win team at most.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Todd Jones said...

hack, lucky for you. you wouldn't have made it past ut last season if that were true.

8:23 PM  
Anonymous nico said...

I'm sick of losing to fucking LSU and Auburn (and Tennessee, though we got a reprieve from that last year.)

Oh, and I'm not one to bitch about officiating, but that loss to Hawaii gave the Warriors two TDs off of two of the crappiest calls I've ever seen in my life.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

Nobody puts Houston in a corner. Hogs 27, Tide 21

5:04 PM  
Blogger Todd Jones said...

Josh - I hate to tell you this, but Houston is already in a corner after the debacle that was last season. You guys always play us tough though, so flop that to Tide 27, Hogs 21 and I'll go along with it.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Newspaper Hack said...

I think the Arkansas game will be very tough -- not a game to look over. That McFadden kid is one badass running back, and he'll only be a sophomore next year.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Chris Jones said...

"There's no weak OL to run through this time around, Tubby, so your Chizikless defense will have to actually do more than just blitz."
Chizik isn't fit to carry Will Muschamp's clipboard. He was the biggest single reason for LSU's success under Saban and he's got better players to work with at AU. To paraphrase Steve Earle, Will Muschamp is the best defense coordinator in the SEC and i'll stand on joe kines'(or Bo Pellini or whoever you think goes here) coffee table in my cowboy boots and tell him that myself.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Todd Jones said...

Chris - I'll give you that Muschamp is better than who ya'll just fired (what's his name? don't care enough to look it up...), but LSU's defensive domination was a product of both him and Saban working together. Saban is a legit defensive guru, while Tuby is a pretender. They'll improve, but they won't be another Saban LSU monster.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Chris Jones said...

They don't need to be. If the defense improves even a little (and I think it'll improve a lot)we'll be just fine. We were 6th in scoring defense last year allowing all of 15.5 points per game and Muschamp will improve that number. Factor that in with the best assitant coach of any kind in the country Al Borges (who's done more with less than even my hero Joe Simpson) in charge of the offense and you've got yourself a football team. Brandon Cox is the most accurate quarterback I've ever seen in college and that as a sophmore (This'll be the year he turns into a star). This is a top 5 team that even Dumbo Ears Tuberville can't screw up.

3:18 PM  

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