Alabama football schedule snaps 31-year trend with visit to ... South Florida? | Goodbread
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Alabama football's 2023 schedule was released Tuesday, and if you were paying close attention, you noticed something that didn't look quite right: a road game against a non-Power Five school. (Trivia alert! When did it happen last? Answer in a few paragraphs). Thanks to a 2-for-1 contract that will bring the University of South Florida to Tuscaloosa twice, Alabama will travel to USF next year for its first such game since …
Whew, it's been awhile. To be exact: 31 years, six head coaches and 127 road games ago. Alabama has traveled to visit at least one school from every major conference over that time. That would include the Pac-12 (UCLA, 2000), the ACC (N.C. State in 1996, Duke in 2010), the Big 12 (Oklahoma in 2002, Texas in 2022), and the Big Ten (Penn State, 2011). The upside to road games at smaller schools isn't much. Recruiting exposure in a sizeable market, perhaps, and USF's Tampa location at least offers that. But the real attraction lies in the 2-for-1 deal − netting two home games without having to pay an exorbitant guarantee − in exchange for next year's road-trip anomaly.
Trivia answer: It last happened during Alabama's 1992 national championship season with a visit to Tulane, a 37-0 Alabama win and a career day for running back Derrick Lassic (188 yards).
Transfer portal popularity has shaken up a lot of opposing rosters on Alabama's schedule, led by 17 newcomers at Ole Miss. Vanderbilt? Not so much, no doubt owing to the same academic thresholds that limit VU in recruiting. This offseason, the Commodores added just two, including a graduate transfer in defensive back Jeremy Lucien from UConn, who is leading VU in pass breakups with four.
"There are elements of option football in what they do, and that's not something that we see all the time. Our players got to have really disciplined eye control and when the point of attack moves, they've got to be able to adapt correctly and everybody play responsibility football, that's what it comes down to." − Nick Saban on what makes Vanderbilt's offense unique.
The Saban coaching tree is off to a 26-12 start to the season. That would include Georgia's Kirby Smart (3-0), Ole Miss' Lane Kiffin (3-0), Maryland's Mike Locksley (3-0), James Madison's Curt Cignetti (2-0), Michigan State's Mel Tucker (2-1), Marshall's Charles Huff (2-1), Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher (2-1), Texas' Steve Sarkisian (2-1), Miami's Mario Cristobal (2-1), Florida's Billy Napier (2-1), Central Michigan's Jim McElwain (1-2), Arkansas State's Butch Jones (1-2) and Georgia Tech's Geoff Collins (1-2).
Around the SEC
If Auburn players had any doubt they entered the season with coach Bryan Harsin's fate in their hands, they can now be certain of it after an embarrassing showing in a Week 3 home loss to Penn State. Whether the Tigers play with passion or come out flat against Missouri Saturday will be telling about how Harsin is regarded in the locker room. ... SEC Spread Pick of the Week: South Carolina -22.5 vs. Charlotte. Season: 2-1.
Reach Chase Goodbread at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread