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Tennessee 2018 Opponent Preview: Alabama Crimson Tide

Expect more of the same from Alabama.

NCAA Football: CFP National Champions-Press Conference Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

A football factory. A collegiate football dynasty. The premier example of excellence.

The numbers tell the story. Nick Saban’s record at Alabama is 127-20 (86.4), 14 bowl appearances, 10 wins, six West Division titles, five SEC Championships and five national titles. Saban has had 18 NFL first round draft picks.

The Crimson Tide for the 2018-19 season shows signs of being nothing less than a national power and SEC champions again.

Despite losing starters at key positions to graduation and the NFL, ‘Bama recruits the best and has plenty of firepower again this year.

Saban has a choice to make at quarterback. He can start national champ star from 2017, Tua Tagovailoa, who led the team to an overtime win over Georgia or the experienced dual threat, Jalen Hurts.

Hurts completed over 60 percent of his passes during the season with 17 touchdowns and only one interception. Tagovailoa had similar stats in backup role with 11 TDs and two ints. Hurts also added 855 yards rushing. Tagovailoa has the edge in arm strength and accuracy.

Whoever starts behind center won’t have Calvin Ridley as a target. Ridley left for the pros but receivers Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith return. Ruggs led the team with six touchdowns last season. All three averaged over 18 yards per catc. Smith caught the 41 yard national championship winning pass from Tagovailoa.

In the backfield, senior Damien Harris returns. He will run behind a line that returns four starters. All-American center Bradley Bozeman, a four year starter is gone but the Tide returns Ross Pierschbacher to take that spot plus tackle Alex Leatherwood. Alabama is never lacking for players to grind it out.

The secondary lost five starters but returns strong safety Deionte Thompson. Trevon Diggs, Jared Mayden, Shyheim Carter and JUCO transfer Saivion Smith should anchor the secondary.

The defensive line, ranked in the top 10 in the nation for scoring and rushing defense the last nine years, returns defensive end Isiah Buggs. Linebacker Anfernee Jennings, a dynamic pass rusher also returns. He could easily lead the SEC in sacks.

The Crimson Tide played 17 freshmen in the national title game last year. They should be ranked at number one or two in the early polls.

Tennessee will host Alabama on October 20.