Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

2023 Alabama football preview: A game-by-game breakdown

CW / Natalie Teat
The Nick Saban statue outside of Bryant-Denny Stadium

As the month of August dawns upon us, so does the intense anticipation of Alabama football.  

 It’s comical that an 11-win season punctuated with a dominant Sugar Bowl showing has left a sour taste in the mouth of Tuscaloosa residents, but such is the case when the standard is the top of the mountain. Recent history says it’s safe to assume the Crimson Tide is ready for the 2023 season. One question remains, then: Are you? Are you prepared for the potential upsets and the sleeper teams we need to watch out for along the way?  

 Lock in, and let’s get officially prepared for the season.  

 Week 1: Vs. Middle Tennessee  

Verdict: Alabama wins in blowout fashion 

 In just over a month, the 2022 Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders fell to Group of Five foes James Madison and UAB by a combined 64 points while picking up a road win over the then-No. 25 Miami Hurricanes.  

 They eventually found their stride, closing on a four-game winning streak, and the personnel from that momentum run is mostly back.The defense was polarizing; it put up little resistance against the pass but was one of the most suffocating in the country against the run.  

 It would be imprudent, however, to judge Middle Tennessee and Alabama on the same level. The Blue Raiders might piece together a solid quarter and make it look somewhat interesting, but at a certain point the sheer talent will take over and swing the game irrevocably in the Crimson Tide’s favor.  

 Week 2: Vs. Texas 

Verdict: Upset alert 

 With college football coming back, talk of “Texas is back!” has also returned.   

This claim is at its most credible this year. The offensive line, which allowed the second-fewest sacks in the Big 12, holds five experienced and potentially all-conference starters. Xavier Worthy, Jordan Whittington and UGA transfer Adonai Mitchell are the top dogs in what looks to be an elite receiving room. Jonathon Brooks, Keilan Robinson and incoming top running back recruit CJ Baxter should make a valiant effort to fill Bijan Robinson’s shoes. 

 The defense led the country in quarterback pressures and was overall pretty explosive; remember the Alabama-Texas game last year, and how lethargic the Crimson Tide offense was made to look.  

 Nonetheless, Alabama is and will likely stay a touchdown favorite. This is not a time to toy around, however, and if whoever finds himself as Alabama’s starting quarterback can’t run an efficient offense and the defense can’t stop a talented Longhorn attack, this matchup might be just as stressful as last season.  

 Week 3: At South Florida   

Verdict: Another blowout  

 South Florida was 1-11 last season. It finished 130th out of 131 teams in opponent points per game. It gave up over 500 yards of offense per contest. The lone bright spot, thousand-yard rusher Brian Battie, is off to Auburn via transfer.  

 No disrespect is intended, but there’s little to say here. If Alabama plays up to its standard, the question isn’t of victory, but of victory by how much. 

 Week 4: Vs. Ole Miss   

Verdict: Alabama wins   

 On one hand, Ole Miss returns one of the best running backs in the SEC in Quinshon Judkins. The Rebels also return Jaxson Dart, who resides in the upper echelon of SEC quarterbacks, and add former Oklahoma State stud Spencer Sanders. On the other, the defense is still in need of improvement. 

This game will almost certainly come down to the ability of Alabama’s defense to get stops, since the Rebels’ path to victory is through their blistering offense.  

 Week 5: At Mississippi State   

Verdict: A likely win. 

 There’s currently a Mike Leach-shaped hole in the Mississippi State football program. With Zach Arnett taking over, the culture is changing, and such a shift makes anticipating the team’s success a difficult task.  

 The Bulldogs were an SEC dark horse last year, pairing their usual potent offense with a surprisingly efficient defense. Even if they retain their sneaky-good status, however, they remain a class below the Crimson Tide. 

 Week 6: At Texas A&M  

Verdict: A win for Alabama 

Texas A&M might have underperformed last year, but it still returns a historic recruiting class with a year of experience. Alongside a new and proven-winner offensive coordinator in Bobby Petrino and an elite pass defense, it could mean trouble for opponents.  

 Still, hold off on the hype until the Aggies prove their worth. Unless there’s an unforeseen malfunction somewhere in the Crimson Tide machine, or another situation with a quarterback making his first career start, this game shouldn’t be as anxiety-inducing as the last two years.  

 Week 7: Vs. Arkansas  

Verdict: Likely win, but potential trap 

 The Razorbacks boast two players who have arguments as the best SEC returners at their position. KJ Jefferson and Raheim Sanders will form one of the most dynamic QB-RB duos in the conference this upcoming season.  

Unfortunately, the rest of the offense is quite depleted; under new offensive coordinator Dan Enos, it will heavily rely on a bevy of transfers with little college football experience. Furthermore, the defense had a Jekyll-and-Hyde dynamic, setting a school record for sacks while allowing an atrocious 465 total yards per game.  

After two potentially exhausting road games, this could be something of a trap for the Crimson Tide. It could be especially tricky if Arkansas takes the leap necessary to fight for a high spot in the SEC West.  

 Week 8: Vs. Tennessee   

Verdict: A nail-biter 

 We all know this rematch is going to take the coveted SEC on CBS spot at 2:30. If everything goes according to plan for both teams, it will be glorious.  

 Despite no small loss of talent, the bar in Knoxville is set high. If Joe Milton reaches his full potential as a quarterback with supreme physical gifts, and the defense overcomes its personnel changes, this team can get a taste of last year’s Josh Heupel chef special.  

 Given the enormous shoes the Crimson Tide’s quarterback will have to fill, there’s a chance the key to victory here is its advantage on defense. If it can curtail the ballistic Tennessee offense, it should escape with revenge exacted. With how gobsmacked Alabama looked trying to stop the Heupel scheme, however, that’s easier said than done.  

 When you’re cooking the popcorn for this game, grab some Tums as well.  

 Week 9: Bye 

 Week 10: Vs. LSU  

Verdict: A toss-up 

 After a five-game gauntlet, the Crimson Tide faces what could be the toughest contest of the season. Alabama’s rematch versus Tennessee is for revenge; its rematch with LSU is for revenge and possibly a spot in the SEC championship.  

Jayden Daniels has a strong case as the best quarterback in the SEC. The defense is a wrecking crew led by bruising defensive tackle Maason Smith and NFL prospect linebacker Harold Perkins. 

Not much separates Alabama from the defending kings of the SEC West. Whether a back-and-forth shootout or a defensive war of attrition, it’ll be a dogfight. 

 Week 11: At Kentucky   

Verdict: Another Alabama win 

 After a six-week grinder, the load is lightened. But not by much. 

Kentucky is looking to return to double-digit-victory level after something of a down year. The 2022 team boasted a staunch defense, ranking 13th in the country; conversely, the offense ranked 112th. 

Though he isn’t the pro prospect Will Levis was, incoming Devin Leary should fit as well, if not better, into the Wildcat attack. The top five receivers all return, two of whom were Freshman All-Americans. All this on top of a defense that will still be solid even with some turnover.  

Like in some of the previous games, however, it’s important not to get carried away. Kentucky’s still a step or two behind the Crimson Tide. 

 Week 12: Vs. Chattanooga   

Verdict: A decisive victory 

 The Chattanooga Mocs were respectable in 2022, finishing No. 24 in the last year’s Football Championship Subdivision rankings. 

In other news, they’re an FCS school. Don’t forget Alabama is paying them $600,000 to spend an afternoon in Bryant-Denny.  

 Week 13: At Auburn 

Verdict: A needlessly close win 

   Auburn has had it a little rough the past few seasons, but the offseason brings a little bit of hope in the form of the transfer portal, especially Michigan State transfer Payton Thorne at quarterback. Getting back over .500 should be the expectation.  

That being said, the Tigers could be starting a middle schooler at quarterback and a squad of Pop Warner MVPs on defense, and this game would still be closer than it should — this is an Iron Bowl in Jordan-Hare Stadium. 

Alabama will be fighting for its right to return to the SEC championship and compete for a College Football Playoff spot. Auburn will be fighting to not be sixth place in the SEC West.  

These teams are not on the same level, but history tells us that by some mixture of underperformance on one side and overperformance on the other, they’ll play an even-footed game.  

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