As The calendar rolls from July to August, there is only one until Crimson Tide start the football season 2022. This year’s campaign begins with a visit to Tuscaloosa from Aggies of Utah State on September 3, but heading into the SEC and national championships the competition will improve greatly as early as Week 2 and remain tough throughout the fall.
Three games in the first half of Alabama’s schedule are significant and could be the deciding factor in whether or not The Tide will make another run in the college football playoffs.
September 10 Alabama vs. Texas
After an actual vote against Utah State, Alabama travels to Austin, Texas on September 10 for their meeting with the Longhorns. This out-of-conference matchup could look like a comfortable win for head coach Nick Saban’s crew Texas‘ only struggled 5-7 last season. However, appearances can be deceiving.
Steve Sarkisian begins his second season with the Longhorns. Sarkisian and the Texan team may not be quite back just yet, but signs suggest this year’s roster is far more impressive than what they rolled out last year. The biggest change will likely come with the redshirt newcomer under center Quinn Ewers moving in from Ohio State after the 2021 season. Technically, he’s in a QB contest with Junior Hudson Card, but that may not be a close race and will likely only serve to determine how much scavenging Card will see in trash time this year.
The biggest possible trap for this matchup, however, may not lie on the Texas sideline. All of the extenuating circumstances in this matchup could make things difficult for the Tide. A street game in Austin in early September could easily hit temperatures well north of the century mark, especially with a midday kick-off. Traveling is never easy, especially at the start of the season. Playing against a Power Five school in an out-of-conference matchup is never easy, and it’s never easy playing as a quarterback against a potential star.
October 1 Alabama vs. Arkansas
This matchup wrote trap play all over the place, and for two important reasons. First, and most blatantly, the Tide has a matchup with Texas A&M in the week immediately following this game. And second, this will be a road test against a solid Arkansas Team that was beaten by 42 points at Bryant-Denny Stadium last season.
Bryce Young was outstanding in last season’s meeting and The Tide needed all of his performance. Young went 31-40 for 559 passing yards, 5 TDs and no interceptions in the 42-35 Victory over the Razorbacks. This season’s matchup doesn’t get any easier as Arkansas also leads it back with a very good QB in KJ Jefferson. Jefferson had a solid game against the Tide last year, going 22-30 for 326 yards and 3 touchdowns.
While Saban would never let his boys overlook an opponent, just a week later, on October 8th, they might get their revenge for their upcoming clash with Texas A&M.
October 8 Texas A&M vs. Alabama
The game on October 8th with the Aggies will not only be a possible revenge point for the previous year crushing loss at College Station, but will also, according to her, mark the end of a collision course between Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban verbal back and forth during the 2022 offseason. Prior to the Aggies’ 41-38 loss in October 2021, Alabama hadn’t lost to an unranked opponent since 2007, so the Tide won’t lack motivation for this duel.
However, A&M has steadily increased its preseason predictions and, just like last year, will not be a loss for any opponent. The Aggies will be looking to win their first SEC West Division Championship while The Tide will show them that last year was just a small blip on the radar. This game will likely be the one that will determine who will represent the West in Atlanta in December. The key to this game lies in a simple concept: keeping the Aggies below 30 points.
The Tide defense gave up 41 points to the Aggies at Kyle Field in 2021. However, they outperformed A&M on overall offense by quite a large margin. 522-379. It was two early turnovers off offense, a pick and a fumble that ultimately made the difference. With revenge as the motivator, the home game against A&M in Tuscaloosa and Bryce Young’s success in that encounter last season, all signs should point to a win. Whether the offensive can keep the ball or the defense can achieve one or the other turnover could again be the difference.
If the Tide can win this matchup, the second half of their season will be very playable. This game will be an early preview of who the Tide are this season and how they might play in December and January.