First the good news: Alabama is eligible to play in a bowl game again. It says here Alabama WILL play in a bowl game this year.
The bad news: The Crimson Tide will NOT be Bowl Championship Series material. More like Peach, Independence or Music City.
But hey, after a two-year bowl absence, most Tide fans will be content to add to Alabama's NCAA record of 51 bowl appearances. And hope the BCS days are on the horizon.
So let's put on our prognosticatin' hat and go to work:
9/4 - Utah State at Alabama - Now this is the way to begin a season. No pressure. No conference opponent. Just show those high-altidude, low humidity Aggies why the first page of the Bama media guide says this: "At a lot of places, they just play football. At Alabama, we live it." ALABAMA 35, Utah State 14
9/11 - Ole Miss at Alabama - Now the fun begins. The conference opener, featuring two teams picked to finish near the back of the pack in the SEC West. No Eli, no problem. ALABAMA 24, Ole Miss 17
9/18 - Western Carolina at Alabama - Spencer Pennington and Marc Guillon get a chance to show what they can do at quarterback, while Brodie rests up for Arkansas the next week. ALABAMA 47, Western Carolina 20
9/25 - Alabama at Arkansas - They say it's a rebuilding year in Fayetteville, but as long as the Hogs have high-stepping Matt Jones at quarterback, SEC linebackers might want to trade in their cleats for track shoes. Arkansas 31, ALABAMA 28
10/2 - South Carolina at Alabama - The Gamecocks will be coming to T-town after having played Troy State in Columbia the previous week. Sorry Lou Holtz, you won't be going undefeated against teams from the state of Alabama this season. ALABAMA 27, South Carolina 21
10/9 - Alabama at Kentucky - Usually by this time of the season, Kentucky fans are counting down the days until the start of basketball practice. This year is no different. ALABAMA 28, Kentucky 20
10/16 - Southern Miss at Alabama - The Tide treats the alums to a Golden Eagle sandwich for Homecoming. ALABAMA 34, Southern Miss 17
10/23 - Alabama at Tennessee - Phillip Fulmer has been waiting a long time for this. A chance to blast the Bama Nation. Just wait till next year, UT, when the game will be played in Tuscaloosa. Wonder if Coach Fulmer will be there, or just talk to his assistants on the phone. Tennessee 34, ALABAMA 28
11/6 - Mississippi State at Alabama - The Tide gets an extra week to prepare for the Bulldogs. The cupboard is bare in Starkville, but more than a few Bama fans think State's coach should be calling the shots in Tuscaloosa. That number will increase if Sylvester Croom's team ever gets the best of Mike Shula's team. ALABAMA 31, Mississippi State 21
11/13 - Alabama at LSU - They used to say, "the Tide don't lose in Baton Rouge." They don't say that anymore. And just who are "they," anyway? LSU 35, Alabama 24
11/20 - Auburn at Alabama - Ending the season by losing 3 out of 4 is not a very promising finish for Shula and Company. As we all know, anything goes in this game. Home, visitor, favorite, underdog - throw 'em all out. At the end of the day, there are more good football players wearing Orange and Blue than there are wearing Crimson and White. By the end of the rugged SEC season, Bama's lack of depth could be exposed. Auburn 24, ALABAMA 20.
But the season ends peachy when a 7-4 Bama team gets picked for the Peach Bowl. And the Tide is one year closer to being full-strength.