Alabama Football: For Tide bad time to play a bad team

Alabama Football has a game on Saturday it does not need. The typical November breather before Auburn comes at a bad time for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Little or nothing will be gained playing one of the worst teams in college football. At worst, what could be a lackluster ‘going through the motions’ effort could be a distraction from much-needed position group improvements.

How bad is New Mexico State? In Jeff Sagarin’s rankings of 258 FBS and FCS teams, the Aggies are ranked No. 183, edging out ‘powerhouses’ Elon and Stony Brook, but well below Western Illinois, Towson and Fordham.

New Mexico State (NMSU) is 1-8. The single win came over South Carolina State. Hawaii has beaten the Aggies twice this season. Scheduling can be tough for lowly valued independents. The New Mexico State 2020 record was 1-1, with a win over Dixie State and a loss to Tarleton State. For a rankings perspective, Mercer is ranked No. 154 by Jeff Sagarin.

The primary motivation for enduring a Tuscaloosa thumping is money. It will be a financial windfall for NMSU. Also, Aggies’ players, long after their football careers are over, can tell grandkids about battling the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.

In a typical season, a cruising Crimson Tide would use one of these games for playing time and development of second and third unit players. Atypically, this is not a November when Alabama Football is close to its best self. As we discussed after the LSU game, there is no denying there is trouble in T-Town.

Week 11 problem for Alabama Football

The bigger problem of playing New Mexico State in week 11 is not about strength of schedule. The Tide’s SOS is strong enough if it keeps winning. Just like playing Mercer and Southern Mississippi, playing NMSU weakens the Tide’s SOS. More concerning about the game is the Tide needs improvement in some of its position groups, particularly on the offensive line. It is hard to get better playing against inferior competition.

It would be different if there were second-unit guys close to being moved up. At least on the offensive line, that does not appear to be the situation. Damieon George Jr. was an emergency replacement against LSU. He might benefit from expanded playing time against NMSU. No one in the Crimson Tide’s heralded freshmen class of offensive linemen will leap into the first unit after playing the Aggies.

The Alabama Football coaching staff will find ways to benefit from the game. Holding out some banged-up starters like Josh Jobe can be valuable. But the overall benefits will be small. Small at a time when the Crimson Tide needs some big improvements.