Alabama Crimson Tide Football 2016 season preview
Nick Saban will be tasked with leading Alabama to another national title (image via: campusinsiders.com)

Despite another off-season of high-profile departures, SEC powerhouse the Alabama Crimson Tide, will still be confident of repeating as national champions. 

Under Nick Saban, 'Bama have become a winning machine who always carry lofty expectations, and that will not have changed despite the loss of a number of last year's star performers. There are a number of standout returnees including Cam Robinson and Calvin Ridley who will enable the dominance to continue at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

2015 Season

Alabama made a statement in week one of 2015, where they ran all over a highly-fancied Wisconsin outfit. Derrick Henry in particular set down a marker for the season, rushing for three touchdowns and 147 yards in the 35-17 triumph at AT&T Stadium, with a blowout of Middle Tennessee coming a week later. 

The Crimson Tide then suffered their one defeat of the season, falling 43-37 at home to SEC rivals Ole Miss, with the Rebels racking up 328 yards in an uncharacteristically poor second half for Kirby Smart's defence. 

That loss sparked the team into life, and they ran up consecutive big wins over SEC counterparts Georgia (38-10), Arkansas (27-14) and Texas A&M (41-23), before Henry ran riot once more over Tennessee this time, with the eventual Heisman winner notching a pair of TD's and 143 yards in an important 19-14 victory at Bryant-Denny. 

Derrick Henry on his way to 210 yards against LSU (image source: getty via heavy.com)

A huge matchup against LSU saw the defence produce an outstanding performance to hold stud running-back Leonard Fournette to 31 yards from 19 attempts, with Henry adding another 3 TD's and 210 yards in the 30-16 win. A 31-6 triumph on the road against Dak Prescott and Mississippi State, 56-6 blowout of Charleston Southern and 29-13 victory in the Iron Bowl against Auburn closed out the regular season with Saban's side sitting 11-1. 

The SEC Championship game against a stout Florida defence saw Henry handed the rock 44 times on his way to 189 yards and a 29-15 victory at the Georgia Dome, with Bama's playoff spot confirmed having been ranked number two by the selection committee the following day. 

Taking on Big Ten champs Michigan State on New Year's Eve, Jake Coker completed 25 of 30 passes, as Alabama rolled on to the Championship game with consumate ease. The Spartans were shutout, eventually going down to 38-0 defeat as Saban's charges came close to perfection with Henry and Ridley nabbing two touchdowns apiece in a Texas anhialation. 

Alabama are crowned 2015 National Champions (image source: gamedayr.com)

Against the #1 side in the country, Alabama toppled Clemson in a thrilling Championship game in Glendale, Arizona, winning 45-40. Henry proved to people why he was awarded the Heisman, getting in the endzone three times, while tight-end OJ Howard had a breakout game with 208 yards and two TD's, with the defence managing to repel Deshaun Watson late in the game to grab the five-point win. 

2016 Schedule

Alabama begin with a return to AT&T to take on USC, before a comfortable looking home-opener against Western Kentucky

Saban's men will hope to gain avenge last season's single loss in week three when they face Ole Miss, with Kentucky State and Kentucky heading to Bryant-Denny over the following weeks. 

SEC contests then come to the fore, with visits to Arkansas and Tennessee sandwiching a home game against Texas A&M during a difficult October schedule, before Bama head to Baton Rouge at the beginning of November for a rivaly game with LSU.

Bama close out with three games on their home patch, with Mississippi State and Chattanooga travelling to Tuscaloosa as the pre-cursor for the regular season denoument against Auburn in the Iron Bowl. 

What to expect from Alabama in 2016?

Having lost a number of stars from both sides of the ball including Reggie Ragland, Jarran Reed, Kenyan Drake and Ryan Kelly, Saban will always prepare his teams and expect another SEC title as the minimum requirement. 

There are still plenty of quality starters returning with Reuben Foster, Jonathan Allen and Eddie Jackson all part of last season's all-conquering defence, with Bo Scarbrough the next cab off the rank at running-back. 

Cooper Bateman and Blake Barnett will both get snaps in the season-opener as the battle to become starting QB intensifies, and if they can make it through the difficult October schedule unscathed they will be in position to challenge for end-of-season honours once more. 

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