Alabama Football: Southern Cal opener could disappoint like Duke

The Alabama football, out-of-conference schedule hurt the Crimson Tide’s Playoff chances in 2019. Trading Duke for Southern Cal is again, not a resume enhancing opener.

As rapidly as it can, Alabama football is getting away from neutral site, out of conference, season-openers. The primary reason is the new economics of college football. Even elite programs such as Alabama football need attractive home games in a season ticket package.

Plus, the allure of an early-season, neutral-site game to Dallas or Orlando has become less enticing. After a 2021 game in Atlanta against Miami, the Crimson Tide is turning to high-profile, home-and-home games every season. The first of those is at Texas in the second week of the 2022 season.

As Nick Saban has said, finding teams willing to face the Crimson Tide is not easy. Last season it became a weaker opponent in Duke. The opposition to open the 2020 season may not be much stronger. The USC Trojans had an 8-5 record in 2019. That is certainly better than the 5-7 mark posted by Duke.

Unfortunately for the Crimson Tide and Trojans fans, USC is on a downward spiral. There is broad belief among USC insiders the only reason Head Coach Clay Helton was retained was the cost of his buyout. Recent staff turnover and other potential exits indicate serious instability in the USC football program.

Helton fired his defensive coordinator and special teams coach after the Holiday Bowl. Three weeks later, he still does not have a DC. In recent days it was learned USC Offensive Coordinator, Graham Harrell might be heading to the NFL. Harrell brought the Air Raid offense to USC. His development of freshman quarterback, Kedon Slovis impressed and gained him an offer from the Texas Longhorns. After a sweetener from the Trojans, he passed on the UT job, but the NFL may be harder to turn down.

Slovis was tremendous, setting an all-time, freshman completion record of 71.9 percent.

USC, in typical ‘Air Raid’ style, did not have much of a rushing attack. Through the air, when Slovis was healthy, the Trojans offense was potent. The problem was on defense. Among FBS teams, the Trojans were No. 78 in Total Defense, No. 96 in Passing Yards Allowed and No. 90 in Red Zone Defense.

The talent level of the Trojans is falling rapidly. USC had the No. 4 ranked signing class for 2018. Last season’s 2019 class dipped to No. 20. So far in the 2020 class, Helton has signed just one Top 100 player. Some Southern Cal insiders are calling the 2020 class the worst in USC history. Note: All recruiting data in this post comes from the 247Sports Composite.

Comparing classes with the Alabama Crimson Tide, Nick Saban signed one 3-Star player in the 2019 class. Clay Helton and USC signed 18.

The starting left tackle for nearly 30 games, Austin Jackson has chosen NFL early-entry. The fastest among a good group of wide receivers, Velus Jones, decided to transfer to Tennessee.

Next: The other Power Fives still chasing the SEC

Southern Cal may end up being as much out-matched in September as was Duke last fall. Fortunately for the Alabama football 2020 strength of schedule, the Georgia Bulldogs rotate in.

 

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