Alabama Football: Final three games will be crucial to 2023 success

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite being all but eliminated from championship contention, Alabama football still has plenty to play for in 2022. It is coming off a big road win over a highly-ranked Ole Miss team and hopes to continue that momentum through the end of the season.

How Alabama finishes this year could serve as a springboard into 2023, much like the Tide’s 2019 Citrus Bowl victory that ultimately propelled the team to the 2020 national championship.

This week’s game against a lower-tier opponent in FCS Austin Peay provides value in a unique way. While Coach Nick Saban would never phrase it this way, this game should not be competitive. Therefore, many reserves and younger players could see significant game experience for Alabama football. Players such as Bryce Young, Jahmyr Gibbs, and Eli Ricks have battled recent injuries and may not play in the game at all, opening up more opportunities for other contributors.

The following week, Alabama will host the Auburn Tigers, who seem to have found new life under interim coach Cadillac Williams. The Iron Bowl is always one of the biggest games of the year, and the 2022 matchup will be no different. With Alabama falling short of an SEC Championship game appearance and essentially eliminated from playoff contention, the Iron Bowl seems to carry a little extra weight this season.

While it won’t replace a championship of any kind, it will provide an opportunity for the 2022 Alabama football team to re-assert its dominance and begin to make amends for a disappointing season. Bama fans would love to see this team exorcise some of its demons and take its frustration from this year out on the Tigers. With a win, Alabama’s draft-eligible junior class (led by Bryce Young and Will Anderson Jr.) could finish their careers 19-0 in Bryant-Denny Stadium and 3-0 overall against Auburn.

If Alabama can close out the regular season 10-2, it will likely make a prestigious New Years’ Six Bowl. Contrary to popular belief, these bowl games are still important and should be considered an honor to play in. Regardless of certain players potentially choosing to sit out the game, either for Alabama or its opponent, the game will be important in determining the attitude of the program and the fan base heading into the offseason.

While the standard for Alabama football is championship or bust virtually every year, there is still a lot to play for in a non-championship season. Regardless of the circumstance, Alabama players should compete with pride while donning the Crimson and White, paying respect to the program’s history and tradition.

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The next six weeks should teach the fan base a lot about the state of Alabama football going forward.