I recently learned something about myself: I’m an eternal optimist when it comes to Alabama football. I envision the best possible outcome, and genuinely believe it will happen. And this goes against my natural hatred for most everything. I hate stupid people, I hate stupid drivers, I hate stupid commercials. And so on.
When I first noticed 6 teams placed their week off before playing Alabama, I was livid. I could not believe this would be allowed. But the more I looked at the schedule, and the closer we get to the beginning of the season, the less I think those bye weeks matter.
Let’s look at the stretch of SEC games and see if the bye weeks would put a wrench in the quest for perfection once again:
Arkansas – While they play 2 cupcakes to open the season, they play on the road against Georgia Week 3, which will be one of the more interesting SEC games. Last year was a scoring fiasco, and I envision UGA bringing a lot more to the table defensively in this game.
Arkansas seems to be a popular choice to potentially upset Alabama, but let’s not forget their matchup with UGA could create setbacks going into their game against Bama.
Florida – They don’t play anybody too difficult in the first 4 weeks, so they do have that advantage going for them. However, they do play on the road against Tennessee. While I don’t think UT will have any chance in this game, don’t expect Florida to leave Knoxville completely healthy. With a new coach and a new system, I think UT, at the very least, plays with a ton of pride.
Their next opponent, Kentucky, if you remember, cleaned Tebow’s clock last year. We all may soon learn to never underestimate a guy named Joker either. If I were Kentucky, clips of Heath Ledger would play all game. Screw it, it’s funny and frightening.
South Carolina – I’m not sure if their schedule leading up to the Bama game works to their advantage or not. Two very winnable games against USM and Furman help, but Georgia at home and on the road against Auburn could put them at 2-2, and do you think a team losing to Auburn and Georgia could contend with Alabama? To me, the Auburn game will give a perfect indication as to how well South Carolina matches up with the Crimson Tide.
A better running attack will help, but Stephen Garcia will still have fits against such a strong defense. And their defense had no answer for Mark Ingram last year, so how do they handle both him and Richardson this year? Answer: they don’t. The week off doesn’t help them in this situation.
Ole Miss – 4 cupcakes to open a season? Is there another team in the country that opens like that? They face Kentucky before their bye, which will be a tough opponent for them. What Ole Miss has is 5 games to get their new QB accustomed to his teammates. What they don’t have are stronger opponents to prepare him for what Masoli will face against Alabama.
Last year, red zone mishaps kept the scoring down, and you better believe that problem will be fixed before this game. The week off isn’t much of an advantage for Ole Miss, because they shouldn’t be too beaten up by the likes of Jacksonville, Tulane and Fresno State.
After Ole Miss, those bye weeks don’t seem like much of an advantage to me. Tennessee doesn’t have the talent to compete, and unless the week off somehow allows a portal in time to open up and allow Eric Berry, Peyton Manning and other TN greats to play in that game, it will not matter.
The Tide’s bye week comes at the same time as LSU’s, so no advantage there. And MSU – see Tennessee.
Auburn taking theirs after playing 11 weeks may help slightly, to allow some bumps and bruises to heal, but they did the same thing last year and you saw the outcome. Out of the 6, this bye week helps Auburn the most.
But if Alabama is 11-0 at this point, the bye week is offset more so by the Tide playing at home for another undefeated season.
The 6 bye weeks, at first glance, definitely looks like an unfair advantage for everyone else. But with the way the schedule plays out, and how strong a team Alabama will field this year, I have a hard time believing it gives any of these teams a leg up on taking the Tide down.
I will say this though: any team that flat out refused to move their schedule around to give some relief should be forced to do the same thing Alabama will this year. But after all the attention this has received, the SEC will do what it can to avoid this catastrophe again.