Alabama football 2020 schedule: Breaking down the Crimson Tide's 10-game SEC slate

Brett Hudson
The Tuscaloosa News

The SEC released the dates for its 10-game football schedule Monday evening, giving the University of Alabama a path that starts in Columbia, Missouri, and ends in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with five home games and trips to LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee in between. Here are some thoughts on the schedule.

Rookies up first

UA faces two of the four first-year head coaches (at least at their current school, in one case) in the league in its first three weeks, going on the road to Missouri in the first game and to Ole Miss two weeks later. Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz and Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin have the handicap of missing most, if not all, of spring practice, a valuable installation times for new coaches or any schools making schematic transitions.

UA will face all four of the new head coaches in the SEC, a foursome it will complete by facing Mike Leach’s Mississippi State Bulldogs on Oct. 31 and Sam Pittman’s Arkansas Razorbacks to end the season on Dec. 5.

Different buildup to Bulldogs

The elimination of non-conference games, particularly for schools that are significantly better than most of their competition, eliminates what amounts to a preseason of sorts, where those elite programs can test some personnel and schemes with little fear for the result of the game.

Georgia certainly could have used that de facto preseason.

Under normal circumstances, Georgia would have opened its season against Virginia (void of most of its offensive playmakers from last season) and East Tennessee State. Those games would have provided the Bulldogs with decent opportunities to determine which transfer would be its quarterback, Jamie Newman from Wake Forest or JT Daniels from USC. It also could’ve given Georgia time to figure out life without last year’s top two ball-carriers (D’Andre Swift and Brian Herrien) and three starting offensive linemen. 

Now, the Bulldogs have tricky games against Auburn and Tennessee before making the trip to Tuscaloosa.

Of course Alabama has its own quarterback question to answer, albeit one that isn’t as difficult given Mac Jones has started multiple games for UA while Newman and Daniels have never taken a snap for Georgia. Plus, UA’s buildup of Missouri, Texas A&M and Ole Miss projects to be significantly easier than the Bulldogs’ path to that highly-anticipated matchup.

Familiar faces

UA coach Nick Saban will face a former assistant in four consecutive games: Jimbo Fisher’s Texas A&M Aggies on Oct. 3, followed by Kiffin at Ole Miss and Kirby Smart at home against Georgia before a trip to Knoxville against Jeremy Pruitt.

Unseasonably late

Alabama has not had a November game against Kentucky since Nov. 1, 1947. UA and Kentucky have met 14 times since then, all of them happening on Oct. 12 or earlier of the given year.

The same can be said for the Dec. 5 game against Arkansas. The Crimson Tide and the Razorbacks have not met that late since their two Sugar Bowl games against one another on Jan. 1 of 1962 and 1980. Since Arkansas joined the SEC for the 1992 season, they have never met later than last year’s Oct. 26 game; 21 of their 28 meetings in the SEC have come in September.

Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or bhudson@tuscaloosanews.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson

Coach Nick Saban works with defensive backs as The University of Alabama opened practice to begin preparations for the 2019 football season Friday, August 2, 2019.