Alabama Football: Top teams with most challenge to reach Playoffs

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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The odds are against another undefeated Alabama Football season. A couple of months ago, we predicted the Alabama Crimson Tide will not be undefeated in 2021. The prediction was based on history.

"Never has the Alabama Crimson Tide followed an undefeated and untied season with another one."

There is another reason the same conclusion could have been reached. The 2021 schedule is too demanding for another perfect score. It is presumptuous to choose the 2022 College Football Playoff participants before most teams have started fall camps. But as always, the real number of National Championship contenders is limited. The preseason number is probably around 15 teams.

Every season the ‘Bama don’t play anybody’ complaints return. Not only are they tiresome but they also are not based on fact. Unfortunately, the toughness of the Crimson Tide schedules get clouded by so many easy Alabama wins – some against weak FBS sisters or FCS teams. When an elite program like the Crimson Tide plays a Mercer or a Western Carolina or New Mexico State, it subjects itself to ridicule.

Those mismatch games do not change the facts. Adding in post-season games, Alabama Football regularly plays one of the toughest, if not THE toughest schedule in college football. For the 2021 season, the Alabama Crimson Tide has the most challenging regular-season schedule of all the potential Playoff teams.

Using the recent ESPN Power Index as a guide, Alabama Football and the rest of the Power Index Top 10 are compared for each team’s regular-season schedule against Top 25 teams.

Alabama Football has the most regular-season games against top opponents

ESPN Power Ranking

  • No. 1 – Alabama Crimson Tide has five regular-season games against Top 25 teams. They are Miami (No. 15); Florida (No. 12); Ole Miss (No. 24); Texas A&M (No. 6) and LSU (No. 14)
  • No. 2 – Oklahoma has two Top 25 opponents: Texas (No. 21) and Iowa State (No. 7)
  • No. 3 – Clemson has one Top 25 opponent: Georgia (No. 4)
  • No. 4 – Georgia Bulldogs have two Top 25 opponents: Clemson (No. 3) and Florida (No. 12)
  • No. 5 – Ohio State has three Top 25 opponents: Oregon (No. 8); Indiana No. 17 and Penn State (No. 20)
  • No. 6 – Texas A&M has two Top 25 opponents: Alabama (No. 1) and LSU (No. 14)
  • No. 7 – Iowa State has three Top 25 opponents: Iowa (No. 18); Texas (No. 21) and Oklahoma (No. 2)
  • No. 8 – Oregon has two Top 25 opponents: Ohio State (No. 5) and Washington (No. 19)
  • No. 9 Notre Dame has four Top 25 opponents: Wisconsin (No. 16); Cincinnati (No. 11); USC (No. 14) and North Carolina (No. 10)
  • No. 10 North Carolina has one Top 25 opponent: Miami (No. 15)

Only the Fighting Irish in the Top 10 come close to the Crimson Tide. The same can be said for LSU. The Bengal Tigers also have four regular-season games against Top 25 teams.

Based on the challenge the Tide faces in the regular season, it does not have to be undefeated to be a solid Playoff contender.

Next. Pre-Camp Two-Deep Depth Chart. dark

Again, it is ACC teams who have easy paths to the Playoffs. Outside of one tough game each for Clemson and North Carolina, there is little challenge coming from ACC teams.