Why Alabama Is In the SEC West Driver's Seat
After Alabama was dethroned as SEC champions last season thanks to the miracle on the Plains, Saban's squad will no doubt head into the 2014 season hungrier than ever before.
With most experts leaning towards Auburn repeating as champion of the toughest college football conference in America, and with star quarterback A.J. McCarron no longer under center, some might think that Alabama will once again lag behind.
But there's a significant reason why Alabama -- not Auburn -- should be considered the favorite heading into the new season:
We recently ran through the schedules of every team in the SEC West, and guess who seemingly has the easiest road to a division title? Alabama. Guess who has the hardest road? Auburn.
Sometimes we severely underestimate a schedule's impact on a team's success. There have been great college football teams over the years that didn't achieve the type of success that they wanted because of a truly demanding schedule.
This season, Alabama's road schedule is certainly manageable with Ole Miss and LSU being the two toughest opponents on the schedule. The Crimson Tide also get Florida and Auburn at home.
As for the Tigers, Gus Malzahn's team must navigate one of the most brutal SEC schedules in recent memory. Auburn gets South Carolina and LSU at home, but in what is undoubtedly the meat of the schedule, the Tigers must travel to Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Georgia, and Alabama.
It's not a stretch to say that the Tigers could fall in every single road game that they play.
Will that happen? Probably not. However, it's a road schedule that will certainly test the defending champions. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide should be sitting pretty in terms of its schedule.
With both teams having an enormous amount of talent, the schedule will be what decides who will stand atop the SEC West when all is said and done.
And if the schedule is the determining factor, Saban should add another championship to his collection.