The Alabama Crimson Tide have been one of the strongest and most consistent franchises in college football for quite some time and that trend should continue in 2017. Since 2011, the Crimson Tide have won four of the five SEC Championship games and it is hard to envision a major change in the general picture in the Southeast Conference.
Yes, Alabama has lost a handful of elite names to the National Football League but that is a regular occurrence these days and the 2016 National Championship winners are capable of moving on and rebuilding ahead of the upcoming campaign. January's agonising defeat to the Clemson Tigers could serve as the fuel for what could be a dominant Alabama campaign in 2017.
If truth be told, the Crimson Tide threw that game away. Alabama was in total control early on and heading into the fourth quarter, but Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson, now of the Houston Texans, led the Tigers to a magnificent comeback. But that was then and this is now - and you can be sure of an Alabama response after that memorable encounter.
As expected, Nick Saban's side is favorite to win the Southeast title yet again; and it would take a brave man to back against the Crimson Tide. In Jalen Hurts, Alabama has a genuine Heisman Trophy contender at quarterback and he can make the difference this year. With a completion rate of 62.8% and a touchdown to interception ratio of 21:9, he is an elite prospect and should improve further.
Out of the backfield, Alabama is blessed with quality. Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris are both capable of carrying the Crimson Tide offense if needs be - and Saban may roll with his two running backs in a committee. With 11 touchdowns and over 800 yards last year, the former may be the number one option but Harris has shown enough to rival his teammate for more touches this year.
They are all set defensively, too. With the likes of Da'Shawn Hand and Minkah Fitzpatrick on the roster, Alabama has game changers and the Crimson Tide will be confident of going all the way. Clemson will be strong again and another clash with the Tigers in the Championship game could be on the cards. Saban's side is a +350 shot in the latest odds on bet365 to win college football's ultimate prize in 2018.
In the Southeast Conference, nobody can really touch Bama barring a major collapse on their part. The Auburn Tigers will be right in the mix too if things go to plan; the signing of Jarrett Stidham was huge and they have one of the most powerful offensive units in the sport. Watch this space; Auburn could be Alabama's primary competition next year with a bit of luck.
Once again, it is Alabama's conference title to lose, though. Nick Saban has made a living of rebuilding this Crimson Tide unit and you can expect Bama to be right up there once again despite losing key players to the National Football League. Write Alabama off at your peril, the Crimson Tide could be set to win it all in the coming months.
Check out our 2016 SEC Football Schedule