Alabama, ranked No. 1 in the Amway Coaches Poll, begins the 2016 season on Sept. 3 against Clay Helton's No. 17 Southern Cal Trojans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., and the game will be televised nationally by ABC.
Of course, the Crimson Tide enters the season with some significant questions at pivotal positions, such as quarterback, running back, along the offensive line, and in terms of establishing depth in the secondary and on the defensive line.
But Alabama, which opened up as a 14-point favorite in this game, despite the fact that it may be relying on a host of young players, will be battling a Trojan team with several issues of its own.
The Trojans have been dealing with depth problems related to probation, as well as coaching instability for the past several years. USC is also looking for someone to replace three-year starter Cody Kessler at quarterback, and may also be inexperienced in areas such as the defensive line.
Helton, who begins his first full season as the USC head coach after coaching the final 10 games for the Trojans a year ago (leading them to a 6-4 record in those contests), must also navigate his team through a treacherous schedule that includes Stanford, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Washington, UCLA and Oregon.
Junior Max Browne is the apparent favorite to win the USC quarterback job, but whoever takes that position will have a talented receiving corps to throw to, led by junior JuJu Smith-Schuster, who caught 89 passes a year ago for 1,454 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The Trojans also have a pair of gifted and experienced running backs in senior Justin Davis (902 yards) and sophomore Ronald Jones (987 yards and eight scores).
USC is not deep in the trenches defensively, but the Trojans are strong in terms of their linebackers and secondary thanks to standouts, including inside linebackers Cameron Smith and Osa Masina and cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson and Iman Marshall.
For the Crimson Tide, its experience defensively, with returning standouts such as Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster, Eddie Jackson and Minkah Fitzpatrick, may be the key for Alabama in terms of starting the season with a win, especially as its offense breaks in another new quarterback and new and largely-untested running backs in Bo Scarbrough, Damien Harris and B.J. Emmons.