20 straight: Football looks to extend winning ways in season-opening games

Adam Baranovsky, Contributing Writer

Entering his 15th season at Alabama, head coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide football team seek their 19th national championship and seventh national championship together as they face Utah State on Saturday, Sept. 3, to open the regular season in Tuscaloosa. 

The Crimson Tide has not lost a single season-opener since Saban took over, and has not lost its first game of the year since 2001 against the University of California at Los Angeles.  

Its 20 straight season-opening contest victories is tied for second-longest streak in SEC history, ironically behind their own record of 30 straight season-opening victories from 1904-1934. 

Alabama’s streak marks the second longest in the entire FBS currently, as Ohio State holds bragging rights at 22 straight season-opening victories. 

In 2019, Alabama beat Duke University 42-3, only allowing a field goal to a team with an 8-5 record the previous season.  

In 2020, Alabama beat The University of Missouri 38-19, to begin the run at their sixth national title. 

Finally, in 2021, the Crimson Tide beat The University of Miami 44-13 in Atlanta, Ga., after a dominant display of football against a team that finished with an 8-3 record and a bowl game appearance the previous season. The game marked the first start by quarterback Bryce Young, who tossed the ball for 344 yards and four touchdowns to kickstart his eventual Heisman campaign. 

The Crimson Tide’s 2022 season-opening game marks the first time the team will open its season on home turf since 2011, when Alabama beat Saban’s alma mater, Kent State University, 48-7 at Bryant-Denny Stadium to begin the campaign. 

Against Utah State University, a team that the Crimson Tide does not play often, Alabama will be seeking its 104th season-opening victory in its history. Their current record of 103 season-opening victories is the most among all SEC teams. 

Led by Heisman trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young, the Crimson Tide looks to rebound this season after a heartbreaking loss in the College Football Playoff National Championship game to Georgia after a 13-2 season. 

Another key player returning is edge linebacker Will Anderson Jr. Arguably the team’s most valuable player, Anderson led the FBS in sacks and tackles for loss while finishing fifth in Heisman trophy voting. 

Alabama looks to start off on a strong note on Saturday in hopes of yet another championship run under Saban. 

Kickoff at Bryant-Denny Stadium is set for 6:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network.

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]