BOL's weekly power ranking of Alabama's 12 opponents for the 2012 season.
Second-year coach Brady Hoke has UM headed in the right direction.
1.] LSU (Baton Rouge, Nov. 3)
2011 record: 13-1; 9-1 vs. SEC
If Southern California was on Alabama's schedule, the Tigers would still rank at the top of this list. Honey Badger or no Honey Badger, LSU remains as the toughest matchup for the Crimson Tide in all of college football.
Up first: vs. North Texas, Saturday, 6 p.m. CT/ESPNU.
2.] Arkansas (Fayetteville, Sept. 15)
2011 record: 11-2; 6-2 vs. SEC
It's hard not to pull for John L. Smith; guy is as forthcoming and entertaining as they come. And given what the Razorbacks return this season, it's easy to understand why the band was kept together sans Bobby Petrino. That said, Petrino's presence loomed large over the program, so it will be interesting to see how this team responds if things don't go well on the third Saturday in September.
Up first: vs. Jacksonville State, Saturday, 6 p.m./ESPN3
3.] Michigan (Arlington, Tx., Sept. 1)
2011 record: 11-2
Brady Hoke will eventually deliver a brand of football very similar to the one Alabama plays. It just won't get to Cowboys Stadium by Saturday night.
Up first: vs. Alabama, Saturday, 7 p.m.CT/ABC.
4.] Tennessee (Knoxville, Oct. 20)
2011 record: 5-7; 1-7 vs. SEC
If I'm Da'Rick Rogers I would have left Tennessee too. I mean, catching all those beer bottles from Tyler Bray has to be tough on a receiver's hands.
Up first: vs. N.C. State, Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET/ESPNU.
5.] Auburn (Tuscaloosa, Nov. 24)
2011 record: 8-5; 4-4 vs. SEC
Tougher offseason: Gene Chizik or Randy Travis?
Up first: vs. Clemson, Atlanta, Saturday, 7 p.m. ET/ESPN.
6.] Texas A&M (Tuscaloosa, Nov. 10)
2011 record: 7-6
New head coach and a new starting quarterback. Tough way to break in to SEC play, but the Aggies aren't without talent. If running back Christine Michael can return to pre-knee injury form, A&M might have some semblance of balance on offense.
Up first: vs. Louisiana Tech, Shreveport, Thursday, 6:30 p.m. CT/ESPNU.
7.] Missouri (Columbia, Oct. 13)
2011 record: 8-5
Mizzou comes on the schedule, meaning Vanderbilt goes off. James Franklin, however, stays on. Unlike Vandy's head coach, there are questions about the throwing shoulder of Missouri's starting quarterback. Fortunately for the Tigers, fall camp reviews of their Franklin's healthy have been positive.
Up first: vs. Southeastern Louisiana, Saturday, 6 p.m. CT/ESPN3
8.] Mississippi State (Tuscaloosa, Oct. 27)
2011 record: 7-6; 2-6 vs. SEC
Home date with Auburn in week two will speak volumes about both teams. To be fair to the Bulldogs, teams ranked four through eight on this list could be drawn from a hat and a legitimate argument could be made for each for the No. 4 spot.
Up first: vs. Jackson State, Saturday, 6 p.m. CT/Fox Sports South.
9.] Ole Miss (Tuscaloosa, Sept. 29)
2011 record: 2-10; 0-8 vs. SEC
Rebels transition from Houston Nutt, whose last two teams combined to go 1-15 in conference play. Hugh Freeze takes over a program riding a 14-game SEC losing streak.
Up first: vs. Central Arkansas, Saturday, 6 p.m. CT/ESPN3
10.] Western Kentucky (Tuscaloosa, Sept. 8)
2011 record: 7-5
Rising coaching star Willie Taggart has the Hilltoppers sitting among the favorites to win the Sun Belt in 2012.
Up first: vs. Austin Peay, Saturday, 6 p.m. CT/ESPN3
11.] Florida Atlantic (Tuscaloosa, Sept. 22)
2011 record: 1-11
Carl Pelini, older brother of Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini, takes over for Howard Schnellenberger, who dropped 14 of his last 15 games as the Owls' head coach.
Up first: vs. Wagner, Friday, 8 p.m. ET/ESPN3
12.] Western Carolina (Tuscaloosa, Nov. 17)
2011 record: 1-10
Team that helped usher in the Nick Saban era at Alabama in 2007 will help usher in Auburn week a few days early.
Up first: vs. Mars Hill, Thursday, 8 p.m. ET