For Alabama Football and most SEC football teams, the 2023 regular season reached the midpoint on Saturday. That is not yet true for Tennessee, Auburn and South Carolina who had bye weeks. All the other SEC teams (except one) have now played six games. The one, Vanderbilt has played seven games because the Dores started in week zero.
At the midpoint of any regular season, reality hits fans of disappointing teams that their team will not have a ‘special season’. In the SEC those fanbases are currently Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Arkansas and South Carolina. In another week Auburn fans will join them. The Commodores have five losses; Arkansas has four; Mississippi State and South Carolina have three each. For the four fanbases a respectable finish, with a win or two over a rival, and (except for Vandy) a berth in a not-embarrassing bowl game are the remaining goals.
There is no reason for Alabama football fans to care about the midpoint also-rans. Except, we might want to reflect on how different it is for those who are not fans of the Crimson Tide. For many FBS teams, a winning record and any bowl game is a successful season. For Alabama Football, not even SEC Championships are enough.
Alabama is the leader at the halfway point to win the SEC West and advance to Atlanta. This means that after wins over Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Texas A&M, Crimson Tide fans can start talking about the CFB Playoff again.
Alabama Football has come a long way in six weeks. It has a long way to go. As Nick Saban said late Saturday afternoon, Alabama needs to correct frequent self-inflicted wounds,
"if we’re going to be able to compete at a high level in the future."
‘If’ was a key word in Saban’s comment. ‘High level’, of course, meant championship caliber and Alabama is not there yet.
Alabama Football Reaching a High Level
The situation is evident to many Alabama football fans. In other week six games, there were results to illuminate the Tide’s 5-1 record. One was the Texas loss to Oklahoma. The Longhorns are still a good team, but the loss tarnished the Tide’s resume. There were other indicators. Mississippi State’s defense was unconvincing in the Bulldogs’ 41-28 win over a bad Western Michigan team.
The Crimson Tide took two other resume dings with losses by South Florida and MTSU. UAB beat South Florida 56-35. MTSU, one of the worst Conference USA teams, lost to Jacksonville State.
In Saban’s post-game remarks, he said the Crimson Tide has tough games ahead. He is not wrong. After a key win, Alabama still has many challenges ahead.