Alabama Football: All but one ’21 opponent to be better than last season

Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports /

Even without an all-SEC schedule, Alabama Football does not have an easy path to the 2022 CFB Playoff. Every 2021 opponent, save one, should be an improved team over last season. This post looks at all 12 teams on the Crimson Tide regular-season schedule. Except for Mercer and New Mexico State, assigning a better or worse rating prediction is not difficult.

For the Bears and the Aggies, how much better they will or will not be is inconsequential. Mercer is coming off a 5-6 season. The Bears could be many times better than last season and get trounced by the Crimson Tide. The mystery with New Mexico State is why the school bothers to have an FBS program. Last season was their best of the last three, at 1-1, following 2-10 in 2019 and 3-9 in 2018.

The Miami Hurricanes expect to be better in 2021. Manny Dias believes the defense will be improved. If D’Eriq King is fully healthy for the opener, the Canes will be a better team than last season.

Southern Mississippi is the first in the probable ‘Mississippi Trifecta’ for Alabama Football. The Golden Eagles might not be greatly improved but they have a chance to double last season’s three wins.

Ole Miss is almost guaranteed to have a better defense than last season’s pathetic one. Thanks mainly to Lane Kiffin and Matt Corral, they will put up points. Mark them down as an improved team.

Are the Aggies closing in on Alabama Football?

Texas A&M fans are convinced Jimbo has brought the program to an elite level. The Texas A&M Aggies were good enough last season to reach 9-1. Getting to 10 wins or more with a new QB is a challenge. Mike Elko’s defense has made solid improvements for three seasons and could be his best in 2021. Check out how Elko’s defenses have performed in College Station. Even if the Aggies are not an improved team, they will be a good one.

After a miserable 4-win season in Starkville, the Bulldogs will surely be better in Mike Leach’s second season. Mississippi State will be better in 2021.

The Tennessee Vols should rebound from a dreadful 3-win season. Don’t expect a big bump. The Vols will be improved but the roster is too depleted for a big upswing.

LSU will be better than its five wins last season. The Bengal Tigers roster has too much talent to be that bad again.

The Arkansas Razorbacks should have a better defense – enough better to push them past the three wins from last season.

The biggest unknown on the Alabama Football schedule is the Auburn Tigers. A new coaching staff, with new schemes, has a chance to improve on last season’s six wins. Auburn should be better after Gus’ exit, but the Tigers could have a tough rebuilding season instead.

Some readers may have detected this post formatted in the order of the Crimson Tide schedule. That is, with one modification. We skipped the Florida Gators for a reason. The Gators should be better on defense in 2021, if for no other reason because Todd Grantham is on a hot seat. But the offense will not be as explosive as last season, making the Gators not as good as they were in 2020.

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Even if Alabama Football faces nine (or 11) teams that will be better than last season, there is little cause for concern. As always, the Crimson Tide’s focus will be on its own performance.