As Alabama looks to win its third straight BCS national championship, the Crimson Tide should be pretty pleased with the way things are spread out on the schedule this fall.
Nonconference opponents (2012 records)
Aug. 31: Virginia Tech (7-6), in Atlanta
Sept. 21: Colorado State (4-8)
Oct. 5: Georgia State (1-10)
Nov. 23: Chattanooga (6-5)
SEC home games
Sept. 28: Ole Miss
Oct. 19: Arkansas
Oct. 26: Tennessee
Nov. 9: LSU
SEC road games
Sept. 14: at Texas A&M
Oct. 12: at Kentucky
Nov. 16: at Mississippi State
Nov. 30: at Auburn
Gut-check time: It comes in Week 3 when Alabama heads to College Station to take on Texas A&M. The opener against Virginia Tech should be fun to watch, but this game should draw even more attention and viewers. The Crimson Tide's only blemish last season came at the hands of the Aggies, and these two will begin the year as the top teams in the SEC.
Trap game: It's hard to break the focus of Alabama players and coaches, so it's tough to find a true trap game. However, that trip to Kentucky on Oct. 12 could be interesting. Alabama will be a heavy favorite, but there's more life and excitement in Lexington, and that Kentucky defensive front could give Alabama's offensive line issues.
Snoozer: Everyone will be trying to keep their eyes open when Alabama takes on FCS opponents Georgia State and Chattanooga this fall.
Telltale stretch: Honestly, Alabama lucked out when it came to how its tougher opponents were spread out. The toughest part of the season comes in November. The month starts with a visit from LSU, in a game that could decide the SEC Western Division, and features road games against Mississippi State and Auburn. Chattanooga provides a nice breather before Alabama takes on bitter rival Auburn during the final week of the regular season.
Final analysis: Any team looking to win its third straight BCS national championship would love to have Alabama's schedule. Sure, it starts off challenging with the game in Atlanta against Virginia Tech and a trip to Texas A&M two weeks later, but it isn't too rocky after that. The home game against Ole Miss to close the month of September should be entertaining, but the next real challenge for the Tide comes on Nov. 9 when LSU returns to Tuscaloosa. That game could mean more to the Tide than the A&M game, and the Tigers will be looking to make up for two straight losses to Alabama. Finishing SEC play at Mississippi State and Auburn won't be easy, but the Tide should be favored in both games.