Tough September slate for Alabama Football

Mar 21, 2024; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama head coach Kalen DeBoer blows his whistle during practice at the University Alabama Thursday.
Mar 21, 2024; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama head coach Kalen DeBoer blows his whistle during practice at the University Alabama Thursday. / Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News / USA

Alabama Football may be facing its toughest early season schedule in several years. Year one of the Kalen DeBoer era should start off smoothly enough, as the Tide will host Western Kentucky on the final day of August and South Florida the following week. However, it wraps up the month with a road game against Wisconsin and a home tilt against Georgia, both of which will be stiff tests for Alabama.

Under Coach Nick Saban, Alabama was no stranger to tough early season games. Just last fall, the Crimson Tide had a tumultuous September that could’ve derailed the season of a lesser program. After losing a home game to Texas in shocking fashion, Alabama went on the road and looked incompetent offensively against South Florida. Though it won the game fairly easily, the ugly showing and Bama’s then-unsettled quarterback situation briefly made the Tide a punchline. Just a week later, Bama had to regroup to beat another top-15 opponent in Ole Miss. 

This was the most stressful September in recent memory for Alabama Football fans. While the 2024 slate shouldn’t produce as much anxiety amongst the fan base, it has the potential to be equally difficult on the field. 

Wisconsin looks to become a Big Ten contender in year two under Luke Fickell. Never an easy out, the Badgers’ brand is built on physicality, trench play, and fundamentally sound football.

Under Fickell, Wisconsin looks to modernize its offense while keeping its core values intact to be more competitive against elite teams. Alabama will be the better team in this matchup, but a raucous road environment and an 11 a.m. kickoff do not favor the Tide. Bama must avoid sleepwalking, as it did two years ago in a similar spot at Texas.

Georgia has been one of the better teams in college football over the past few seasons. In 2024, the Bulldogs will once again have one of the best rosters in the sport and an elite coaching staff headlined by Kirby Smart. Both teams will have a bye week prior to what might be the most highly-anticipated game of the college football regular season. 

This could be the statement game that Coach DeBoer needs early in his career. After over a decade and a half of being spoiled, the Alabama fan base finally experienced vulnerability and subsequently had a resurgence last season. 

When UGA comes to Tuscaloosa, very likely as the no. 1 team in the country, I expect that resurgence to come full circle. National media may not give the Tide much of a chance to win, but the Alabama fan base should have Bryant-Denny Stadium rocking in what will be an insane college football environment. 

This two-game stretch could go a long way towards determining Alabama’s success this season. On its own, this stretch won’t have a major impact on Bama’s playoff chances, with 12 teams now getting into the postseason championship race. Still, it will tell us a ton about the makeup of this young team. If the Tide can get through September mostly unscathed, it will be a promising sign for a team that should only improve as the season progresses.