The 2020 edition of the College Football Playoff was unique from all those before it in that the Alabama Crimson Tide were not among the field of four. The fact that Alabama had been a playoff participant in each of the five years prior, had played in the National Championship Game four times, and won the title twice speaks to the dominance that the program has maintained for the better part of the last decade. Of course, Alabama football has a rich and storied history that goes back to well before the institution of the College Football Playoff. The Tide will look to make their way back into the playoff in the upcoming 2020-21 season.
Alabama Odds to Win National Championship 2021
Alabama Odds Analysis
Despite not making the Playoff last season, Alabama was still at or near the top of the rankings throughout the season. The Tide rattled off eight straight wins to start the season and spent three weeks holding down the number one spot in the top 25 rankings. Alabama’s first loss came at the hands of the eventual National Champion LSU Tigers, a narrow 5-point defeat. The next week proved to be fatal to Alabama’s hopes of staying alive in the CFP race. Star quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender Tua Tagovailoa suffered a broken hip and had his season ended on the spot. The Tide closed the regular season with a field goal loss to in-state rival Auburn, a loss that officially ended their championship hopes. Even so, Alabama was still able to finish the season on a positive note with an impressive win over Michigan in the Citrus Bowl.
While the exact odds on Alabama to win the 2021 National Championship vary at different sportsbooks, one thing that all oddsmakers seem to agree on is having Alabama as the team with the third-shortest odds to win it all. The only two teams with shorter lines are Clemson and Ohio State. Clemson is the presumptive betting market favorite, with most books listing them at or around +250. Ohio State falls between Clemson and Alabama, however, they too see varying odds at different shops. At DraftKings, OSU is actually listed as a co-favorite with Clemson at +250 odds. The Crimson Tide’s National Championship odds range anywhere from +400 to +600 on the market.
In a similar vein to the National Championship odds, Alabama also ranks third in terms of the highest projected win totals at sportsbooks. Their over/under wins line of 10.5 ties with Oklahoma and sits behind only Clemson (11.5) and Ohio State (11).
SEC Betting Odds
The Southeastern Conference is known for being the deepest and best football conference nationally on an annual basis. This makes Alabama’s run of success all the more impressive. While the Tide have some of the shortest National Championship odds of any team on the board, maneuvering through the SEC will once again be no easy task. Nonetheless, Alabama does have the favor of oddsmakers and the betting market. The Tide’s +175 odds at BetOnline to win the SEC make them the preseason favorites in the conference.
Alabama resides in the SEC West Division which figures to be deeper than the East once again this season. The Tide’s top threats for supremacy in the West project to be Texas A&M (+700), LSU (+800), and Auburn (+1200). As seen in the odds, none of those teams are seen as truly being on the same level as Alabama. The SEC East is home to a pair of teams that could prove to be legitimate conference and College Football Playoff contenders this season in their own right. Georgia sits behind Alabama with the second-shortest SEC odds at +300. Florida is next in line at +500. Georgia and Florida also have the fourth and fifth-shortest odds respectively to win the National Championship, putting them right behind Alabama on the national stage. Tennessee is an intriguing longshot pick in the SEC with +2000 odds.
Alabama Schedule Preview
The Crimson Tide will be tested early this season. They open with a neutral site showdown against Pac-12 contender USC in Arlington. Two weeks later, they will welcome the aforementioned Georgia squad to Tuscaloosa to begin SEC play. While the loser of that game won’t be eliminated from contention when it comes to making the SEC Championship Game or the College Football Playoff, they will certainly find themselves behind the eight-ball and with no margin for error the rest of the season.
The Tide have another tricky run of four road games in six weeks during the middle of the season. Among them is a trip to Oxford to take on former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and an improved Ole Miss team, as well as the showdown with LSU in early November. The LSU game is Alabama’s final road test of the season, but they will still need to be on top of their game to finish the season strong at home against a tough Texas A&M squad and rival Auburn in the Iron Bowl finale.
Alabama Roster Outlook
Being the power program that it is, Alabama lost plenty of talent to graduation and the NFL Draft this offseason, including quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Nonetheless, Nick Saban’s recruiting team always finds a way to reload. You can trust the Crimson Tide to be hovering around the top of the College Football world once again in 2020-21.
Alabama should be well-equipped at the QB position again this season even with Tagovailoa now in the NFL. 6’ 2”, 205-pound redshirt junior Mac Jones, who filled in admirably when Tagovailoa went down last year will be the starter. In just five games last year, Jones threw for over 1500 yards and 14 touchdowns. This included 327 yards and 3 TDs in the convincing Citrus Bowl win over Michigan.
Jones will benefit from what figures to be a strong complementary rushing attack thanks to a wealth of returning experience in the backfield. Senior Najee Harris returns after eclipsing the 1200-yard mark and reaching paydirt 13 times last season. Harris has also displayed ability as a receiver, hauling in 27 receptions for over 300 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2019-20. Like Jones, Harris was phenomenal in the Citrus Bowl, rushing for 136 yards and 2 scores. He will be joined in the backfield by fellow senior Brian Robinson Jr., who spelled Harris to the tune of 4.6 yards per carry across 96 attempts last season.
The Tide lost a pair of elite wide receivers to the NFL Draft in Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III. Fortunately, senior DeVonta Smith and junior Jaylen Waddle have the ability to play bigger roles in their absence. Even with Jeudy and Ruggs around, Smith went over 1200 yards receiving last year with an 18.5 yards per reception average and 14 touchdowns. Waddle surpassed 500 yards in his own right with 6 scores.
Alabama’s offensive line also returns plenty of proven experience. Left tackle Alex Leatherwood and right guard Deonte Brown are both seniors, while center Landon Dickerson joined the team as a graduate transfer. An Alabama offense that ranked third nationally in points per game last year with 45.7 has the potential to be just as good in 2020-21.
There was a lot of talk throughout last season that the Alabama defense had taken a step back. While the unit was still plenty good on the national level, ranking 15th in points allowed per game at 19.9, the mark was a bit lower than many Crimson Tide fans have grown accustomed to. Particularly concerning was the allowance of over 40 points in each of the team’s two losses last year to LSU and Auburn.
Despite what can be classified as a “down year” by Alabama football standards, the unit has the potential to rebound in 2020-21. The initial depth charts do not show a single freshman among the starting defensive unit. Linebacker Ben Davis projects to be the lone starting senior. He will be joined in the middle of the field by juniors Dylan Moses and Christopher Allen and sophomore Shane Lee. At 6’ 3” and 308 pounds, nose guard DJ Dale will be a major force for opposing lines to contain up front. The secondary is led by corner Patrick Surtain II, who projects to be highly sought after by NFL teams in the 2021 draft.
-Returning Talent at the Skill Positions
-Experienced Offensive Line
-Strong and Experienced Defense
-Loss of Many Key Contributors
-Limited Experience at Quarterback
-Defense Needs to Return to Championship Form
-Tough Road in the SEC
The betting odds suggest that Alabama will again be in the thick of both the SEC and National Championship pictures this season. Considering the construct of the team, the schedule, and the championship tradition that has been instilled in the program, the odds are completely justifiable. Considering the depth of the SEC relative to other conferences, it makes sense for Alabama’s title odds to be slightly longer than those of other contenders.
In looking to back an SEC team to win it all, Alabama makes a lot of sense from every angle except betting value. The team is loaded, particularly on offense, but other conference contenders like Georgia, Florida, and Texas A&M cannot be dismissed altogether. Given that they all have longer odds, one of those teams would be a better value play. With that said, I do view the Tide as a legitimate contender. A bet on Alabama to win the 2021 National Championship, preferably at +500 or better, is nothing that I would be opposed to.