The open date prior to the Tennessee game comes at a perfect time. The traditional open date before LSU is replaced by a breather against Mercer. Beating Auburn in Game 12 does not require playing a cupcake the week before.
Even though Nick Saban has a valid concern about loaded permanent opponents, the Tide’s three biggest rivals are continued for another season. If that means forever, so be it. There is added value in beating each one and in the case of the Bengal Tigers and the Vols, possibly knocking them out of an SEC Championship game.
Could Alabama Football have a more favorable schedule? Certainly, it could. Twice having back-to-back road games is not optimum. Trading Vanderbilt for the Game 5 option of A&M or the Sooners would make for an easier win. But too little challenge can be worse than too much. And Alabama fans would never want a Georgia-like cakewalk to the Playoffs.