(Source: University of Alabama Athletics/Auburn University Athletics)
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -
Now that we're inside of 90 days to the start of the 2015 college football season, I'm probably a bit like you: I'm looking at personnel from both teams a bit more carefully, and I'm wondering if the Crimson Tide or the Tigers will be stronger.
Now we can look at rosters, schedules and pre-season polls all we want (and that's what we're doing here) but remember that so much can happen between today and the day of any one particular football game.
Still, I thought we'd get a head start on those so-called media experts who will be attending SEC Media Days next month and look at some of the national pre-season polls that have already been released.
As you can see, the SEC western division race will be wide open in 2015, but here is how a few national publications and/or web sites are ranking their Top-25:
What's it all mean? Not much other than we know that either team will have a shot at winning it all if things go right.
The case for Alabama: Nick Saban returns a strong stable of running backs, from Derrick Henry to Kenyan Drake to Damien Harris. Lane Kiffin is talented enough to turn Eli Gold into a quarterback. Saban continues to land top-rated recruiting classes as he doesn't recruit, he drafts.
The case against Alabama: Saban will have to replace three starting offensive linemen, a slew of receivers and defensive backs, and did I mention he needs a quarterback? And the 2015 schedule? It's one of the nation's most difficult, as the Tide will play at Miss State, Georgia, Texas A&M and Auburn. Throw in a season opener against Wisconsin and man, the Tide will have their work cut out.
The case for Auburn: While quarterback Jeremy Johnson has not received major playing time, big things are expected. Duke Williams will likely be the first receiver taken in the NFL draft come 2016, and tailback Roc Thomas is just warming up. The Tiger's schedule is favorable what with home games against Georgia, Ole Miss, Miss State and Alabama (they will go to LSU).
The case against Auburn: Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp is a talented guy, but he will have to work miracles in many areas, especially defensive back where defections have been plentiful. The defensive line should be stout, led by Carl Lawson, with linebacker Cassanova McKinzy and defensive back Tray Matthews standing out in their roles, but Muschamp needs to get his players back to playing fundamental football by, um, tackling.
The bottom line? Both the Tide and Tigers are poised for huge 2015 campaigns, and something tells me the Iron Bowl may once again play a role in a national championship run.