Alabama has won every season opener since Nick Saban took over the program in 2007 by at least 10 points.

The lowest margin of victory was that exact double-digit mark in 2009 against Virginia Tech and then in 2014 versus West Virginia. The highest (46 points) actually came in Saban’s debut against Western Carolina and again at his decade stamp versus Southern Cal.

In Saban’s 11 season openers so far, UA has averaged 28.1 points more than its opponent. Now it’s time for the 2018 showdown, and, as of Wednesday morning, has Alabama as a 24.5-point favorite over Louisville for Saturday’s kickoff game at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.

“We’re going to have to do a great job of executing on offense and score points,” Saban said. “That’s the No. 1 thing that we need to be able to do in any game, but especially in this game.”

The Crimson Tide hasn’t lost an opener since the 2001 season when – throwback – Dennis Franchione was in charge; it was his first of only two seasons at UA. But even then, UA only fell short by a field goal.

Looking at first games under Saban alone, the Crimson Tide averages 39.6 points. That’s about four points more than its overall scoring average, as Saban has coached 152 games and notched 5,322 points. The math shakes out to 35 points per contest.

“We want to put up a lot of numbers,” UA tight end Hale Hentges said. “And that’s part of our offensive leadership is just telling our guys: Hey, we can be that good and we can be the team that hangs 60 points on everybody.

“We can be that if we play hard, we do the right thing and we ultimately accomplish our goals every single day.”

One of Alabama’s goals, for games specifically, is to come out fast and strong from the get-go.

With Saban, Alabama has only had one season opener where it didn’t score in the first quarter. That was in 2016. It has also only had one instance where it went into halftime without the lead. That was in 2009.

Obviously both games were still won.

“We always take pride in preparing to wear a team down a kind of make them break, whether it’s in the first quarter or the fourth quarter,” Alabama running back Damien Harris said. “That’s just something we train for and hopefully all that training will pay off Saturday.”

No. 1 Alabama vs. Louisville
When: Saturday, Sept. 1, at 7 p.m. CT
Where: Camping World Stadium in Orlando
Radio: 95.3 FM, 102.9 FM

Last season, Louisville held its opponents to an average of 27.4 points per game. It gave up a total of 42 offensive touchdowns.

The 2017 Alabama team finished 15th nationally in scoring offense with a 37.1-point average. It ran and passed 64 balls into the end zone.

“Obviously this place has always been about defense for the longest time,” Hentges said. “And we’re trying to rewrite that.”


Reach Terrin Waack at or at 205-722-0229.