Last week, I listed what I think will be the seventh through twelfth toughest games for Alabama in 2007. As promised earlier, here is my take on what will be the six toughest games for our Alabama Crimson Tide in 2007
6. ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS on 15 September
I've said before and I will say it again: the Arkansas game doesn't lie. Just because this game seems to be a frighteningly accurate indicator of how the rest of the season will go doesn't mean that I necessarily think it is always among our toughest games. It's been a crazy off season in Arkansas with Las Cronicas de Boss Hawg providing plenty of "WTF moments" that make us Alabama fans look sane. Despite the many distractions, they still have Darren McFadden and that scares the crap out of me. I'm glad this one is at the Capstone.
5. GEORGIA BULLDOGS on 22 September
This is a tough game to have right after Arkansas. I know they're in our conference and all, but of the "Big Three" in the East (UGA, Tennessee and Florida) we've had less contact with Georgia since the expansion of the SEC than the other two and I almost view playing them as playing a brutal out of conference game. We've split the four games we've played with them since 1992, but they took the most recent pair. Knocking off Georgia would earn the team some major respect. If Alabama comes into this game 3-0 I think the outcome will greatly influence the rest of our season. Once again, I'm glad this one is in Tuscaloosa.
4. more or less at FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES on 29 September
The third game in a tough early season stretch finds the Tide traveling to "neutral" Jacksonville to take on a revamped FSU. It should be a great game on the field, but there will be so much off the field hooplah surrounding this one that it could be distracting to the team. Two traditional powers squaring off, Saban vs. Fisher, Bowden vs. his home state, Kevin Steele vs. his former employer, etc. Hack mentioned all of this as well recently and it's sure to be an epic game. Steward Mandel even listed this as one of ten games that could shape the 2007 season.
3. TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS on 20 October
There hasn't been a blowout in this series since 2002 when the Tide rolled over Rocky Top to the tune of 34-14 in Knoxville. The last four contests have been decided by a total of 18 points despite both teams putting some incredibly crap squads on the field during that stretch of time. Both fanbases want blood every time these two teams meet, but the addition of Saban into the Third Saturday in October drama should have Bryant-Denny Stadium at an absolute fever pitch. Saban can buy himself a lot of favor with a win here.
2. LSU TIGERS on 3 November
This. Game. Is. Going. To. Be. Insane. LSU has a more talented team and is picked to play for the national title despite the loss of several key players. Emotion, however, will play an ENORMOUS part in this game. Saban has used the word "coonass," Les Miles has dropped an f-bomb when talking about Alabama. LSU fans feel Saban is a traitor, Bama fans feel that Saban is their football savior. I imagine that this will be the toughest ticket to come by at Bryant-Denny this year and I think that the place will be roaring the entire time if it's a close game. It is unquestionably the home game I'm looking forward to most this year. Once again, keeping focus will be key in this game because of all of the off the field stuff this one will conjure up. This game also was featured in Mandel's 10 games that could shape the 2007 season article.
1. at AUBURN TIGERS on 24 November
An outside observer would probably guess that Auburn always holds the top spot when ranking Alabama's toughest games, but that isn't necessarily true. It is always one of those games where you can "throw the record book out the window," but that's not why the Barn takes the top spot for me in 2007. It is a road game and Jordan Hare is never an easy place to win but that isn't why it grabs the top spot. I think this will be the toughest game because there will be an insane amount of pressure on Saban to snap the five game losing streak to Auburn in his first year. Auburn, of course, will want to beat the 4 million dollar man and pronounce that it was wasted money and that no amount of money can purchase a win over them or some similar nonsense. Even if I can't get a ticket to this game, I want to be in Auburn for this one.
Five conference foes and one massive out of conference match up. Six tough games that could go either way. Football season cannot get here soon enough.