The newly-released 2024 Alabama Football schedule won’t be easy by any stretch of the imagination. However, with the very fabric of college football shifting beneath our feet, we have to view schedules in a vastly different context starting in 2024 and going forward.
With the introduction of a 12-team playoff format, there are built-in mulligans that give Alabama Football and other elite teams an advantage. Under this new system, the dominant teams at the top of the sport are actually incentivized to play much tougher schedules, within reason of course.
The SEC is well ahead of the curve, making sure its top teams do just that.
2024 Alabama Football schedule could be a gauntlet
With two more major brands joining the SEC in Texas and Oklahoma, it will be difficult to craft a league schedule for anybody that is easy. The Crimson Tide’s slate certainly won’t be Cupcake City. Although the kickoff of the 2024 season is well over a calendar year away, the early assumptions are that Alabama Football will have four particularly tough games next season.
Alabama Football will play at Tennessee and at LSU, which was the normal rotation for these two (soon to be former) SEC West rivals. Both Tennessee and LSU, at least at the current moment, appear to be riding a fairly steep upward trajectory after being average teams as recently as 2021.
Alabama will also play at Oklahoma, and will host Georgia in Bryant-Denny Stadium. In other intriguing matchups, Bama will host Auburn in the Iron Bowl and will travel to Big 10 country for a week three bout with Wisconsin.
This is a brutal schedule on paper, but it could benefit the Crimson Tide when it comes to postseason play. As college football moves closer and closer to an NFL-lite model, the playoff will quickly supersede the regular season as the most important stretch of the year for contending teams.
One or two losses will not carry as much weight as they used to, so we could begin to see strategies like load management as teams jockey for favorable playoff seeds and matchups. I would go as far as to postulate that we are witnessing the beginning of the end of undefeated national champions in college football.
Although things are changing at a fundamental level, Coach Nick Saban has made a career of adapting quicker than anybody else in the sport.
There’s no reason to think he won’t have Alabama Football ready for what will be a very different SEC, and a very different sport, in 2024.