(This is the fourth in a series previewing the 2018 opponents of the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns.  Today:  #1 Alabama.  Cajuns travel to Tuscaloosa on September 29.)

You have to feel sorry for Nick Saban.  His Alabama Crimson Tide didn't play in the SEC title game and barely snuck into the College Football Playoff.  Not a very good season for a program that is used to winning national championships.

Wait...they won the national championship?  Again?

Yep.

And they might be poised to do it again.

The Tide returns seven starters on offense, including four outstanding offensive linemen.  They have both of their quarterbacks back along with star RB Damien Harris.  They're replacing three starters at wide receiver.  But those guys who return all have good experience.

Defensively there are more holes to fill.  Alabama returns only three starters, none of them in the defensive backfield. And, yet they are expected to maybe be even better than they were a year ago.

Alabama opens against Louisville in Orlando in one of only two games they will play on turf this year (at Arkansas is the other).  They play a pair of Sun Belt schools (Arkansas State travels to Tuscaloosa on Sept. 8th) and take on the Citadel in their other non league game.  Their road schedule is not brutal.  They travel to Ole Miss, Tennessee, LSU and Arkansas.  Their two toughest games, Mississippi State and Auburn, are both at home.

OUTLOOK:  The lack of a great schedule last year didn't hurt Alabama and it probably won't hurt them this year, either.  They're Alabama.  They're ranked pre-season #1 and if they aren't in the College Football Playoff again, you'll have a story.  Cajun fans who make the trip will enjoy game day at the Capstone, but no one will go there predicting an upset.