Alabama's tendency to schedule uncompetitive games against nonconference opponents has been mocked over the years, but the program has largely stuck with what works. This season, that means this Alabama team still has much to prove heading into October.
Alabama opened the season against Utah State, winning 55-0, and the Crimson Tide pummeled Louisiana-Monroe 63-7 last Saturday. Sandwiched in between was a road matchup at Texas, a one-point win that was much more competitive than anyone anticipated — especially after Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers left the game early. In November, Alabama's final nonconference game will come against Austin Peay in a tuneup before the Iron Bowl.
On Saturday, Alabama is a 40.5-point favorite against Vanderbilt. While the Commodores have gotten off to a fine start this season, they still don't hold a candle to the SEC's best. It's not Alabama's fault that lowly Vandy is its first SEC opponent, but it may have an impact down the line.
Alabama looked like an untested team against Texas, and that could be a concern when the Crimson Tide face Arkansas next weekend. Last season, Nick Saban's team barely scraped past the Razorbacks at home one week after a 59-3 win over New Mexico State.
An Alabama team that played a few too many close games in 2021 will face the Razorbacks on the road this time, two weeks before going on the road against an impressive Tennessee offense.
If the Crimson Tide slip in one of these tough SEC games, Louisiana-Monroe and Vanderbilt may be part of the reason.