Earlier today, Alabama football admitted that it needs to fill a big hole in its 2015 schedule, and is willing to play “anyone.” The problem is, not everyone is willing to sign up for an almost guaranteed loss. It’s tough to be the strongest college football program of the last five years sometimes.
Looking at Alabama’s 2015 slate, they are signed up to play Wisconsin on September 5 in Arlington, Texas, and the Tide will host Louisiana Monroe on September 26th. With November 21, the second-to-last week of the regular season, generally reserved for an FCS opponent, that leaves two Saturdays—September 12 and September 19—as likely dates for the final game.
Using the future schedule listings at fbschedules.com and nationalchamps.net as well as listings available on some athletic department websites, it appears that there are 27 potential suitors for the Tide. Here are the schools, with their conferences, and the likelihood that they would accept a game with Alabama.
|Air Force||MWC||Not likely – The Falcons already have Army, Navy, and Michigan State on the schedule, and will likely find a weaker fourth non-conference opponent.|
|Central Michigan||MAC||Not likely – CMU hosts Oklahoma State in week one and travels to Syracuse and Michigan State later in September. Unless the Chippewas are true gluttons for punishment, don’t expect them to add Alabama.|
|Miami||ACC||Not likely – Nebraska is already coming to South Florida, while the Canes head to Ohio for a game with Cincy.|
|UNC||ACC||Not likely – UNC has a game with South Carolina in Charlotte and host Illinois.|
|N.C. State||ACC||Somewhat likely – N.C. State’s schedule shapes up fairly well for Alabama. The Wolfpack has Troy, ODU, and South Alabama scheduled. Alabama would be the only power conference game, but would take away the chance for an FCS game.|
|Syracuse||ACC||Not likely – ‘Cuse already has LSU on the schedule. An SEC West two-fer would be way over-ambitious.|
These first six schools shows why Alabama is having such a difficult time—most schools have already filled their marquee spots, and are saving spots for FCS opponents. The Tide have more possibilities the following week.
|Arizona||Pac-12||Somewhat likely – Arizona hasn’t scheduled an FCS, but the Wildcats’ existing slate of UTSA and Nevada isn’t too imposing.|
|Arkansas State||Sun Belt||Not likely – The Red Wolves already have a trip to USC and host Missouri. They really don’t need Alabama in the mix.|
|Army||Independent||Somewhat likely – Army has 10 schools scheduled, but the Black Knights are usually game for a tough slate.|
|BYU||Independent||Not likely- BYU has 11 of 12 possible games set, but with Michigan, Nebraska, Boise State, and Cincinnati already on the list, Alabama probably isn’t a likely addition.|
|Buffalo||MAC||Not likely – UB has a trip to Penn State and a game with Boston College already lined up.|
|Connecticut||AAC||Somewhat likely – The Huskies head to Provo for a date with BYU, but other than that, the schedule is light. Alabama is a possibility, though probably not a wise one for a rebuilding program.|
|ECU||AAC||Not likely – The Pirates already face Florida, Virginia Tech, and BYU on their schedule…adding Alabama would be crazy.|
|FIU||Conference USA||Likely – Different sites list Indiana, UCF, and UMass on the Panthers’ schedule. FIU is probably a school that Alabama could pay to come in, so they make sense here.|
|Hawaii||MWC||Not likely – Colorado travels to Hawaii, while the Warriors head to Wisconsin and Ohio State. Alabama would be overkill.|
|Houston||AAC||Likely – Houston has its FCS game set with Tennessee Tech, and hosts Texas State and goes to Louisville. While it’s doubtful that Alabama would give them a home-and-home, a 2-for-1 series where Alabama can get some more exposure in talent-rich Texas could be enticing for both sides.|
|Middle Tennessee||Conference USA||Not likely – The Raiders have Illinois, Ball State, and Vanderbilt set. They’d probably like an FCS team in the mix, not ‘Bama.|
|North Texas||Sun Belt||Not likely – The Mean Green already head to SMU, Tennessee, and Iowa. They need a winnable home game.|
|Tulane||AAC||Not likely – If Tulane is still scheduling like a bottom feeding program, they may be able to be bought, but with their improvement last season and entrance into a better conference in the AAC, as well as games with Duke and Georgia Tech lined up, I don’t see Alabama landing them.|
|Tulsa||AAC||Not likely – Another case of a team that has a marquee game already (Oklahoma), and will probably fill its last game with an FCS squad.|
|Western Michigan||MAC||Not likely – WMU already has Ohio State and Michigan State to look forward to.|
Week three opens up some more schools, but realistic fits are still tough to come by. A handful of schools that we found have either date open:
|FAU||Conference USA||Not likely – FAU has no dates set, but they already face Miami, Florida, and Tulsa, all tough games for the Owls.|
|Louisiana Lafayette||Sun Belt||Likely – ULL is a fairly local school, without a tough game on the 2015 schedule, and both dates open. Alabama should be able to make this work.|
|Stanford||Pac-12||Not likely – Stanford opens the season with Northwestern and ends by hosting Notre Dame. The Cardinal could make Alabama work, and seem game for most match-ups, but this one probably won’t happen, unfortunately.|
|Texas State||Sun Belt||Somewhat likely – Texas State opens with a trip to Florida State, and goes to Houston later in September. They are a team that can probably be paid for a game.|
|UCF||AAC||Not likely – This would be another fun game. UCF is already scheduled to go to FIU and to South Carolina, and they probably don’t want a third road game in the non-conference schedule.|
|Wake Forest||ACC||Not likely – Wake has Indiana at home, and trips to South Bend and West Point. They will still be rebuilding under Dave Clawson; Alabama won’t help that cause.|
Out of 27 teams, eight seem to be somewhat realistic possibilities for Alabama. Buying a game with UL-Lafayette or FIU makes the most sense, while Houston could be an attractive option because of its location and availability. N.C. State, Army, UConn, and Arizona might be able to work, but chances are this game will not be an overly fun match-up for the Tide.