Alabama's football schedule is finally set. Can the Tide go undefeated in 2020?
Lord help Missouri.
That was the first thought that ran through this humble scribe’s mind when the Southeastern Conference FINALLY released the 2020 schedule Monday night.
Lord help Missouri.
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) August 17, 2020
Not that you can find many teams left anymore that have the Spaldings to proclaim “We Want Bama!” anymore. But are there really any programs — outside the NFC Central, anyway — who would want to line up with the Crimson Tide at full strength and with absolutely everything to prove?
This was going to be Southern Cal’s fate, the one that will befall Mizzou on Sept. 26 at Faurot Field in Columbia. Holding it at Jerry Jones’ joint was supposed to help the Trojans a little bit. Neutral site and all. But in reality, Southern Cal would have to suit up Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush to compete with Alabama on what was supposed to be one of the premier nonconference games of the season.
Coronavirus squashed those plans, naturally. Which means Dallas will have to go an entire season without seeing a playoff team (Hi, Cowboys fans!) on the home sideline. And we are stuck with what feels like a wilted garden salad instead of a jumbo Gulf shrimp cocktail to start the 2020 season.
It will go badly for Missouri, oh yes. There aren’t enough ballplayers under Patrick Mahomes’ age in the entire state to help the Tigers now. Missouri might have been the 12-time Big 8 champs back in the day, but this is the SEC. And in the SEC, well, Missouri is simply taking up space and not even contributing very much to the academic side of things like Vanderbilt at least has the decency to do.
New Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz must feel like the Jamaican bobsled team at the top of the run right about now, wondering what the heck he got himself into. Short of the SEC jettisoning Missouri for Ohio State, the fate of Drinkwitz and Missouri is coming without fear or favor.
We already knew much of Alabama’s SEC slate, at least from an opponents perspective, but Monday’s release did accentuate a few more things worth noting:
1. Getting Texas A&M and Georgia early is a tough draw …
… but at least both games are at home. The Aggies visit in Week 2. Jimbo Fisher is bound to get it right eventually in College Station, and this could be the year the Aggies pull off a Money Manziel-sized upset.
Same goes for Georgia in Week 4 on Oct. 17. Talk about a slugfest between another student (Kirby Smart) and the ultimate mentor (Nick Saban). This game, along with LSU in Baton Rouge in Week 8 on Nov. 14, could be the conference’s Game of the Year.
2. I’m sorry, Kentucky, but …
We took a little heat in certain quarters by insinuating that Kentucky’s football program will suffer much the same gruesome fate that Missouri has coming to it when the Wildcats visit Tuscaloosa on Nov. 21. And while this game has bookmakers both legitimate and on the street corner just waiting for all that Alabama -34.5 money to come rolling in, it is quite possible that Kentucky could make it a 60-minute affair.
Let’s face it. Kentucky football is equal to Alabama basketball, the overwhelming second banana on a campus infatuated with the main event. Predicting Kentucky to come into Bryant-Denny Stadium and land enough scoring blows to score a Buster Douglas vs. Mike Tyson-style upset is about as smart as proclaiming Nate Oats can roll into Rupp Arena and take down John Calipari’s Wildcats.
3. The Iron Bowl still will settle everything
Alabama’s season, as it has every year since they starting playing football in Lee County, will invariably come down to the Auburn game. Set for Week 10 on Nov. 28, the Tigers have a bit of mystical trance on the Tide here recently. Now, some can slough it off as being a Jordan-Hare thing, as was the Kick-6 and last year’s goofy end-of-half officiating circus. But remember, Auburn waltzed into Bryant-Denny Stadium with a certain son of a preacher man and not only figured out how to make Mark Ingram fumble a football 25 yards dead straight out of an end zone but also engineered a Camback that we still don’t quite believe happened.
That was then, though, and this is now. We know Bo Nix, and Bo Nix is no Cameron Jerrell Newton. Neither is Gus Malzahn really a Gene Chizik, but we aren’t as sure if that is an insult or a compliment. Either way, this Iron Bowl isn’t likely to go the way the 2010 game did.
Final thought …
Looking at this schedule, there is absolutely no reason Alabama can’t run the table and end up in the SEC Championship Game. Yes, there are a couple of tough stretches. As always, luck and injuries play a huge factor. And if there’s anyone out there who can predict either one, hit us up on Twitter along with stock tips and the Lotto numbers.