College football's unique in that a single loss could mean the difference between a conference championship (or the ultimate regular-season goal, a College Football Playoff spot) and becoming an also-ran in the FBS ranks. If Alabama wants to return to the College Football Playoff in 2016, they can afford a maximum of one loss. Here are Alabama's five toughest games heading into this year:
5. Auburn Tigers (November 26th)
We don't have to talk about how big the Iron Bowl is, and that fact is enough by itself to put this game on the list.
4. at Tennessee Volunteers (October 15th)
Tennessee is an up-and-coming program under head coach Butch Jones, and many think they could be a surprise playoff contender this year. Alabama needed a last-minute touchdown to beat the Vols in Tuscaloosa in 2015...they'll need to play their best to knock off Tennessee in Knoxville.
3. USC Trojans (September 3rd)
Season openers don't get any bigger than these two college football titans facing off at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. The Tide will be favored to win, but breaking in a new quarterback makes this a lot more interesting.
2. at Ole Miss Rebels (September 17th)
No need to remind Alabama about Ole Miss - the Tide have this game circled in red. The Rebels have upset 'Bama each of the last two years, and Nick Saban's squad is determined not to let that streak go any further.
1. at LSU Tigers (November 5th)
Alabama and LSU are the two favorites to win the SEC West, and as has been the case over the past decade, the winner will usually win the division - and the SEC as a whole. Plus, Alabama has won five in a row over the Tigers. LSU will bring their A-game in this one.