As was mentioned earlier in the diaries, the 2008 football schedule was finally confirmed today by the athletic department. The following is the official schedule from RollTide.com:
So, after months and months of rumors, the schedule has finally been finalized. A few general thoughts:
- The opening game against Clemson will be a very tough one. They went 9-4 this season, and they really don't lose much of anything. They only have twelve seniors on the entire team, and most of those guys aren't significant contributors. They may very well be the favorites to win the ACC next year, and it will be a very tough game to win. It will probably not be the toughest game on the schedule, but it will be one of the three or four toughest. If we win there, we might just be in for big things. And for the record, we are the home team (thus we will be wearing crimson), and the game will be broadcast on either ABC or ESPN.
- Thankfully after a very tough season opener, we get two relative patsies in Tulane and Western Kentucky. I don't want to jinx us and we end up getting Sun Belted again, but those should be two relatively easy wins, and that will help us acclimate all of the freshmen that will be playing to college football. It will still be a tough road with a lot of young guys, but I do like seeing two relatively easy games early on the schedule.
- Kentucky returning to the schedule works out quite well for us. They went 8-5 this year, though honestly weren't as good as they were in 2006, but next year they lose nearly all of the key players on offense and the star on defense. Andre' Woodson, Rafael Little, Steve Johnson, Keenan Burton, Jacob Tamme, and Wesley Woodyard will not return in 2008, and it is highly unlikely that Kentucky will be able to adequately replace them. The Wildcats have not reeled off three consecutive winning seasons since the remnants from the Bryant era graduated, and it is highly unlikely that they can change that in 2008. The most likely scenario is that they have a losing season, and for us to get them at home on the inter-divisional schedule really works out well for us.
- If you are looking a game where we might slip up, I suppose you have to be looking at Arkansas State. Those guys only went 5-7 this season, but did give Texas a hard time (21-13), and put up 27 points against Tennessee. Moreover, they have a dual threat quarterback (Corey Leonard) that has great mobility, and a very good tailback (Reggie Arnold) who ran for over 1,000 yards this season. In a lot of ways, they are very similar to Kinsmon Lancaster and Calvin Dawson, two of the major culprits earlier this year when we were Sun Belted. When you add that the game is in between Tennessee and LSU, I suppose that is a bit of a concern.
- All in all, this is a very tough schedule, make no mistake about it. Clemson will likely win 9-10 games next year, may be favorites to win the ACC, and they will considerably better than 2007 Florida State. Auburn will return a strong team, and may very well be favorites to win the SEC West. Georgia will be a preseason top five pick, the favorite to win the SEC, and many will pick them as national champions. LSU will lose a lot, and may drop to 9-4 or 8-3, but it's not like they are going to fall off the face of the Earth, and honestly they still have a lot more talent and depth than we do. Mississippi State will again be fairly solid, and Croom will have those guys ready to play. Ole Miss will be considerably better. Tennessee and Arkansas will regress, but aside from that it is going to be extremely tough, and we will have a fight on our hands almost every single week.