Alabama was the ultimate winner in college football during the 2011 season. But the Crimson Tide might not be set up for a repeat performance in 2012.
And it might not be because of a lack of talent (something Alabama hasn't really experienced since Nick Saban arrived). According to ESPN colleague Ryan McGee, Alabama might not hoist the crystal ball in Miami next year because of its schedule.
McGee named his top 10 early schedule losers in 2012, and Alabama came in at No. 1. It was the only SEC team to make his list.
Alabama might have soft nonconference schedule (outside of that sweet game against Michigan to open the year) and just four true road games, but McGee is worried about the Tide's opening to the season:
"Instead, you need to pay attention to the fact that two of the Crimson Tide's first three games include a trip to Arlington, Texas, to play the Michigan Wolverines and a visit to Fayetteville to play the Arkansas Razorbacks, who will have Tyler Wilson back under center. I don't care who you are, that's tough."
Win those, and Alabama could be right back in the driver's seat for another title run. Alabama does have to go on the road to Tennessee and Missouri, who could both be competing for the SEC East title in 2012. Texas A&M joins the West schedule, and and don't forget that one of those true road games takes place in Baton Rouge, La. Something tells me that one could be pretty big ...
Here's a look at Alabama's 2012 schedule:
Sept. 1: Michigan (Arlington, Texas)
Sept. 8: Western Kentucky
Sept. 15: at Arkansas
Sept. 22: Florida Atlantic
Sept. 29: Mississippi
Oct. 6: Open Date
Oct. 13: at Missouri
Oct. 20: at Tennessee
Oct. 27: Mississippi State
Nov. 3: at LSU
Nov. 10: Texas A&M
Nov. 17: Western Carolina
Nov. 24: Auburn