SEC Football Media Days is the first sign of the return of a new college football season. The Crimson Tide plays Middle Tennessee in Week 1. All you need to know about them can likely be learned in Erik’s first 2023 edition of Giving Away Money.
In our first installment of wild blind dart-throwing predictions of Alabama opponents, we start off with an opponent who the Tide will being seeing much more of once they join the SEC in 2024.
WEEK 2, SEPT 9: TEXAS LONGHORNS
Coach: Steve Sarkisian (13–12 in two seasons at Texas; 59–47 in college career at Washington, So Cal, Tejas)
2022 Texas record: 8–5 (6–3 B12; 3rd in the Big 12 Conference; Lost Alamo Bowl to Washington)
Looking back: After a cupcake win in Week 1, Texas took Bryce Young and the Tide down to the wire - even with Quinn Ewers knocked out of the game early. The Texas QB would not return until October but by that time, UT was 2-2 having lost to Texas Tech in a wild overtime game. Three straight B12 wins (WVU, Okie, ISU) were followed by heartbreaker at Okie Lite - UT’s first trip outside of the Lone Star State. The ‘Horns would defeat K-State, Baylor and plucky Kansas, but fall to playoff participant TCU. The regular season wrapped with a loss to Washington in the Alamo Bowl. All five Texas losses would be by seven points or less.
Expected returning starters: 9 offense, 6 defense, placekicker
Key losses: RB Bijan Robinson (Round 1, Falcons), LB DeMarvion Overshown (Round 3, Cowboys), RB Roschon Johnson (Round 4, Bears), DT Keondre Coburn (Round 6, Chiefs), DT Moro Ojomo (Round 7, Eagles), CB D’Shawn Jamison, SAF Anthony Cook, QB Hudson Card (transfer to Purdue), DE Ovie Oghoufo (transfer to LSU), OL Junior Angilau (to Oregon).
Top returnees: QB Quinn Ewers, WR Xavier Worthy, LB Jaylan Ford, TE Ja’Tavion Sanders, DL Byron Murphy, LT Kelvin Banks, S Jerrin Thompson, K Bert Auburn.
Top newcomers: LB Anthony Hill (FR), WR Adonai “A.D.” Mitchell (UGA transfer), S Jalen Catalon (Arkansas transfer), DL Trill Carter (Minnesota transfer), CB Gavin Holmes (Wake Forest transfer), QB Arch Manning (FR), WR Johntay Cook (FR).
Strengths: All five starting offensive linemen and tight end returning... top three receivers are back and with new additions, should be better than last season’s group... Kicking and punting should be solid... Only two games (Alabama, Iowa State) out of the state of Texas...
Weaknesses: Finding replacements at running back for Robinson and Johnson... Defense lost some key player (Overshown and Cook in particular)... Sorting out much of the LBs and secondary... Impatient and irrational fan base... Ewers/Manning Rat poison...
Outlook: We’ve been hearing for years upon years that “Texas is back!” Sam Ehlinger proclamation after the 2018 season has not exactly come to fruition. His coach Tom Herman would be fired two years later and Sark was brought in. BUT IT’LL BE DIFFERENT THIS TIME! I JES KNOW IT! Joking aside, the former Alabama OC has built a pretty strong team and there are reason to be optimistic. Ewers has cut his trademark mullet and is now talking/acting like a mature seasoned veteran.
Win Total Odds*
Over 9.5 −140 (bet $140 to win $100)
Under 9.5 +120 (bet $100 to win $120)
Sat, Sep 2 vs Rice - W
Sat, Sep 9 @ Alabama - L - UT will be FIRED UP for this game, but not sure they are ready to win such a game in a place like Bryant-Denny.
Sat, Sep 16 vs Wyoming - W
Sat, Sep 23 @ Baylor - W - This feels like a game UT could lose but BU is not looking strong on defense again this year.
Sat, Sep 30 vs Kansas - W - This won’t be a pushover. But then again, KU is not sneaking up on anyone this season. Plus, the game is in Austin.
Sat, Oct 7 vs Oklahoma (played in Dallas) - W - Okie still rebuilding.-
Sat, Oct 14 - off week
Sat, Oct 21 @ Houston - W - The Coogs will have a tough initiation into big boy football.
Sat, Oct 28 vs BYU - W - The Coogs will have a tough initiation into big boy football.
Sat, Nov 4 vs Kansas State - W - Deuce Vaughn was the straw that stirred this drink, but he is now in Dallas. K-State will be good but it’ll be tough for the ‘Cats to win this one in Austin.
Sat, Nov 11 @ TCU - L - The losses of Max Duggan, running back Kendre Miller, receiver Quentin Johnston and five other Frogs to the NFL hurts. There will be a step back for TCU but they could have things rolling by November.
Sat, Nov 18 @ Iowa State - W - This one looked like a trap game until news of their returning starting quarterback gambling broke on Tuesday
Fri, Nov 24 vs Texas Tech - W - Don’t overlook QB Tyler Shough and the dangerous Red Raiders. This could be an upset special.
I am a believer in Steve Sarkisian. Many of his detractors will point to the fact that he has never won double-digit games in a season. While, Sark has had some personal issues in the past, he pulled up his bootstraps, studied at the Nick Saban School For Wayward Coaches, and graduated with honors. He has built a solid team with some actual depth.
This one is hard to predict with all the weirdness going on in the B12. Many teams will be extra pumped to beat Texas as the ‘Horns exit the league. But it feels like a down year for the rest of the conference as UT swings up. I am taking the OVER on 9.5 wins at 10-2, but tentatively so.
[SIDE NOTE: If you are a betting kind, Oklahoma has been tabbed at 9.5 win as well. There is NO way in Hades they win 10 regular season games in 2023.]
Regular season wins for Texas in 2023:
This poll is closed
10 or more
8 and a hot seat
7 and a meltdown
6 or less and Sark’s body is never found
2023 ALABAMA SCHEDULE:
Sat, Sep 2 vs Middle Tennessee
Sat, Sep 9 vs Texas
Sat, Sep 16 @ South Florida
Sat, Sep 23 vs Ole Miss
Sat, Sep 30 @ Mississippi State
Sat, Oct 7 @ Texas A&M
Sat, Oct 14 vs Arkansas
Sat, Oct 21 vs Tennessee
Sat, Oct 28 off week
Sat, Nov 4 vs LSU
Sat, Nov 11 @ Kentucky
Sat, Nov 18 vs Chattanooga
Sat, Nov 25 @ Auburn