By Shane from Centerpoint
Alabama head coach, Nick Saban, is on a mission to resuscitate a once legendary football program. The process continues this Saturday night when the “Nictator” takes his traveling show to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The outcome of this gridiron war should provide Crimson Tide fans with a candid outlook on whether this season will be a stepping-stone in an attempt to regain national respect or a quick revival that says to college football, “Bama’s back”.

Saban’s return to the Southeastern Conference last year was at best, a struggle. However, he has had another off-season and recruiting class to wipe away the stench of the pathetic attitude that permeated the Crimson Tide football program. With a very average transitional year behind him, Nick and his Tide are being presented with an opportunity to grab the spotlight when they face off with the 10th ranked Clemson Tigers.

Admittedly, the opening game of the season usually involves a multitude of mistakes. As a result, the team who makes the fewest mistakes will usually win the game. Alabama’s performance Saturday will serve as an excellent indicator pertaining to coach Saban’s ability to extract discipline, poise, and consistency from his players.

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Most experts would agree that a quarterback’s performance is crucial to any offense’s continuity and overall success. Two big questions centered around that position will determine Alabama’s offensive success against Clemson: Have coach Saban and his quarterback guru, Jim McElwain, been able to re-program senior signal-caller, John Parker Wilson? Can J.P. eliminate those fatal errors and maintain his poise under fire in order to utilize Bama’s talented arsenal of weapons – which provide him with ample firepower and scoring potential. In fact, Wilson’s ability to maintain consistency will be the most important factor in determining Alabama’s offensive success against the Tigers.

Will the second edition of Nick Saban’s defense be good enough to keep pressure on Clemson quarterback, Cullen Harper – keeping him off balance and forcing him to turn the ball over? This year’s version of the Crimson Tide defense should be a better reflection of Saban’s philosophy. If the defense can confuse Clemson’s inexperienced offensive line early and limit their quarterback protection, the Tide’s front seven should be able to disrupt Harper’s rhythm and rattle him quickly. Regardless, Saban knows his defense must first prove it can shut down the tandem of Davis and Spiller – Clemson’s dynamic running backs. This game against Clemson features an abundance of talent on the Tiger offense. However, this second stanza of the complex “Sabanized” defense should be better equipped to meet the coach’s standards and create a dominant defensive personality.

Of course the game’s “wild card” is going to be which team has the better-coached special teams. Saban is a complete coach who preaches detail to the extreme and he pays close attention to every facet of football’s third phase as well. Both teams possess enormously talented return specialist, but Alabama’s Javier Arenas is a proven game-breaker. He could be a difference maker in any game.

This early season excursion to Atlanta is an excellent chance for the Crimson Tide to stomp a footprint on the minds of future opponents. A win by Alabama will only serve to enhance recruiting and perpetuate Saban’s process ahead of the expected pace. Is the Tide on the rise?

Anyway, here is my prediction for the final score: Crimson Tide 31, Tigers 21.