Top 10 early schedule losers for 2012 

January, 17, 2012

Last week, we took a look at my man Mark Schlabach's Way Too Early Top 25 and did some surmising on which teams might be poised for big early jumps thanks to some sweet early scheduling efforts by the football office.

(By the way, I was asked if I still thought Oregon would be in the same good shape even with the stunning early departure of our up-top photo model, quarterback Darron Thomas. I say yes. He'll miss Oregon more than Oregon will miss him.)

Now it's time to take a look at the back side of that roller coaster. What teams are in danger of losing early ground? Here are my picks. And that ground can be nearly impossible to reclaim. Speaking of the Ducks, just ask them about that.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Way Too Early Ranking: 3rd
Home games: 7
Road games: 4
Neutral site: 1
Nonconference opponents: Michigan, Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, Western Carolina
Biggest test: Nov. 3 at LSU

Forget the fact that the defending national champs are playing two Westerns and an Atlantic. Forget the fact that their 12-game schedule includes only four true road games. And forget the fact that they travel to Baton Rouge for the "Game of the Century: Episode III" in November. Instead, you need to pay attention to the fact that two of the Crimson Tide's first three games include a trip to Arlington, Texas, to play the Michigan Wolverines and a visit to Fayetteville to play the Arkansas Razorbacks, who will have Tyler Wilson back under center. I don't care who you are, that's tough. Then again, if the Tide win both, they'll likely have a choke-hold on the No. 1 spot for a while.

Ryan McGee | email

ESPN Senior Writer