The Alabama football team is out for blood after the unflattering 2022-23 season that just concluded…or is it?
Every team embraces the idea of a good underdog story, and the Alabama Crimson Tide is no exception. The only problem when it comes to the Tide doing so is quite a simple one to explain: Bama is never an underdog.
Regardless of what one thinks about the Alabama football program, it is impossible to deny that it is consistently one of the top names to keep an eye on every college football season. Yet, in spite of that fact, neither its players nor its coaches are beyond pretending that the world is constantly counting them out—this kind of mentality has been seen so often in modern sports that it’s almost cringeworthy at this point.
But, this next time around, I might be willing to come to the defense of Alabama football and its desire for a fairytale comeback. My reason? If any year was going to see Saban and his boys fail, it would be 2023.
Alabama football has several noteworthy matchups lined up for the 2023-24 stretch and, especially when considering factors like the order they’re in and/or where they’re each located, none of them should be written off as “easy.” Said matchups include Texas, Ole Miss, @ Mississippi State, @ Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU, @ Kentucky, and @ Auburn.
To make matters worse, five of the opponents named finished last season with eight wins or more. When throwing in the Tide’s Sep. 2 meeting with the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, that number rises to six. Bama has not seen a regular season schedule with that many 8-win FBS programs since 2018.
Now, none of this is meant to imply that the Crimson Tide is at severe risk of losing any of these games, as it went 5-2 in the seven of them that it played last year (and both losses were decided by extremely narrow margins).
However, combining Alabama football’s recent inability to pull away from its foes with the departure of star quarterback Bryce Young—a man who was often credited with helping them escape multiple close calls—makes for far dicier circumstances than those that the iconic program is used to.
Bama’s biggest question marks would have to be the Longhorns, Aggies, Volunteers, and Tigers (LSU). The Horns managed to keep their 2022 battle with the Tide within one point (despite QB Quinn Ewers suffering an injury in the first quarter).
As for the Aggies, they have found ways to keep Saban on his heels in their past couple of meetings, with the last one in Kyle Field resulting in a thrilling upset. Then there’s the Vols and Tigers, who were the only squads to go as far as actually beating Bama in 2022.
Again, Alabama football is no true underdog—if finishing with 11 wins and a Sugar Bowl trophy is seen as a “down year,” how can it be? But, if fans are desperately craving some kind of return to glory, they might not want to bank on the 2023-24 slate being the one to give it to them.