Alabama Football: Playing Chattanooga and cost-benefit to the Crimson Tide

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /

Following an established scheduling pattern, Alabama Football will play an FCS team a week before the Iron Bowl. Chattanooga is not a bad FCS team. Their 7-3 record is respectable, but the Mocs will not be an FCS Playoff team.

In most seasons, playing an FCS team in November is no different than the option of playing one in September. The dynamics of this Playoff season may make this season different.

Many Alabama football fans agree with Nick Saban that all FBS teams should only play other FBS teams. Still, there are development benefits to be gained from an FCS game.

How Playing Chattanooga Benefits Alabama Football

There are key second-unit players that will have expanded roles against the Mocs. The norm for Saban is the starting quarterback and other offensive starters will not see action very far into the third quarter. Ty Simpson will likely get a series or maybe two with mostly first-unit players before they join Jalen Milroe on the bench. Some ‘rotating’ wide receivers, outside the Tide’s top three will likely get more first-half snaps than normal and most of the second-half action.

For other players, deeper down position group depth charts, the game will provide the most playing opportunity of the season. Dylan Lonergan, for example, should see more than just mop-up duty in the 4th quarter.

Another benefit is based on the laws of probability. Starters playing fewer snaps in the game have a reduced risk of injury.

Crimson Tide Cost of Playing Chattanooga

There is a cost, but it is not a financial one. It is the cost of diminishing two important data points used to evaluate teams. Those data points are Strength of Schedule (SOS) and Strength of Record (SOR). Neither will be made better by beating an FCS team.

There are several sources for SOS and SOR. The CFB Playoff Selection Committee uses SportsSource Analytics (SSA) for SOS rankings and other data. Using a tool made available to everyone SSA ranks the Crimson Tide No. 3, with the toughest SOS of all the teams in Playoff contention. Among the nine teams, only Texas is close to the Crimson Tide in the calculated SOS, at No. 5.

Alabama football fans are following SOS and SOR rankings carefully. Currently, SSA has the SOS of other Playoff contenders as Ohio State at No. 32, FSU at No. 33, Washington at No. 36, Michigan at No. 44, Oregon at No. 62 and Georgia at No. 76.

Next week we’ll see how the Chattanooga result affects the Crimson Tide ranking.

Crimson Tide with great progress in 2025 class. dark. Next

There is another cost to the Tide of playing an FCS team now. Finally, late in the season, Alabama has gained momentum. Will any of it be lost playing a lesser foe? Nick Saban will seek to avoid that happening.