Alabama Football: On schedule strength and the CFB Playoff

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

One week does not make a season but Alabama football did not get much help from regular-season opponent’s outcomes in week one.

Most Alabama football fans are weary of pundit complaints about the Crimson Tide 2019 regular-season schedule. So are we, but the reality is a one-loss team at the end can make or not make the CFB Playoff because of its schedule.

The CFB Playoff committee should be feeling the pressure of added scrutiny this year. Choosing Notre Dame as the fourth Playoff team last season was such a colossal mistake.

It is, of course, too early to be thinking about the Playoff. The first ranking does not come out until Nov. 5 this season.

So much will happen in the coming months that none of us can predict. Still, everybody else is talking about it so why should Crimson Tide fans be different? Doing so is not abnormal for a program that measures itself by national championships.

How weak is the Alabama football schedule?

ESPN says through its FPI that the Alabama football schedule in No. 38 in the FBS. Clemson is even worse at No. 50.

The potential problem for the Crimson Tide is how it compares to other legitimate contenders for CFP Playoff slots. A general list of real CFP Playoff contenders based on national pundit opinions is no more than maybe a dozen teams.

Our estimate is those 12 teams are Alabama (38), Georgia (14), LSU (12), Clemson (50), Michigan (5), Ohio State (11), Penn State (26), Oklahoma (49), Texas (35), Utah (53), Washington (22) and Notre Dame (60). The current FPI calculated strength of schedule as reflected by the numbers in parentheses above puts the Alabama football schedule at No. 8 of the 12 teams.

In week one of the season, the record of Alabama Crimson Tide regular-season opponents (not counting Duke) was 6-5. No schedule help was anticipated from New Mexico State who was destroyed by Washington State or Western Carolina who lost to Mercer.

Losses by South Carolina, Tennessee and Ole Miss hurt the Crimson Tide. The biggest plus on the wins side was Auburn beating Oregon. Knowing these schedule dynamics did not keep many of us Alabama football fans from rooting for the Ducks. In week two, LSU beating Texas would benefit Crimson Tide schedule strength.

Any future Playoff concern can likely be resolved by a repeat SEC Championship. Even if one loss occurs in the regular season. But the regular-season schedule is still problematic. Based on the current FPI only six of the Tide’s regular-season opponents have a projected win range up to seven wins. Only two are projected to win eight or more games.

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