Alabama Football: Toughest regular season game will be …

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

Waiting for the Alabama football season is about as tough as living through the summer’s heat wave. Those suffering through brutal June heat don’t expect relief soon. The typical ‘dog days’ of summer still lie ahead in July and August.

Right now, the countdown for Alabama football is all about fall camp which is still more than a month away. Recruiting news fills the void, but is not enough.

What we want is football. In the absence of it, let’s consider what lies ahead in the 2022 regular season.

Like many Tide fans, every summer includes careful analysis of every team on next season’s schedule. Well, make that almost every team. Bored or not, it is hard to drill down on Austin Peay. Giving attention to Utah State and Louisiana-Monroe is not much easier.

That leaves nine games with nine teams having varying chances of success against the Alabama Crimson Tide. For some of them, the chances are closer to none than slim. For one, Vandy, the chance of an upset is exactly none.

Eight chances to upset Alabama Football

Of the other eight teams, arguments have been made (not by me, but by others) that each of the eight Crimson Tide opponents can win. Popular choices are Tennessee, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Auburn. LSU, Texas, Ole Miss and Arkansas have also been tabbed as the team most likely to take down the Tide in 2022.

My pick is Sam Pittman’s Arkansas Razorbacks. Last season, in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide was never in danger of losing, but the Hogs played tough. With six minutes left, Alabama led by just six points, before adding another TD, and a two-point conversion, to put the game away. Even then, the Hogs did not quit and added a late touchdown in a 42-35 Tide win.

The Oct. 1 game this season is in Fayetteville. Most of the college football world will be looking ahead to the following Saturday when Texas A&M comes to Tuscaloosa. Nick Saban will insist his players engage in no such anticipation.

Sam Pittman and the Hogs will already be battle-tested by the Aggies in Arlington, TX on Sept. 24. Win or lose that game, the Hogs will be ready for the Tide.

Pittman has had offseason holes to fill at wide receiver and multiple defensive positions. The roster has seen considerable out and in transfer movement. Overall, the talent level should match last season. After Bryce Young, KJ Jefferson might be the SEC’s best QB. Leading the Hogs to nine wins last season, Jefferson completed 67.3% of his passes and had a Passing Efficiency Rating of 164.7. He is also a punishing runner who rushed for 664 yards last season.

Four starters return on the offensive line and the running back group is one of the best in the SEC. What gives the Razorbacks the best chance for an upset is continuity in the two Coordinator positions. The pair of Barry Odom (DC) and Kendall Briles (OC) may not be the best duo in the SEC, but they are in the top two or three. Pete Golding and Bill O’Brien will have their hands full.

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In the end, a double-digit, Alabama Crimson Tide victory can be expected, but it will not come easy.