Earlier this year, we did a quick analysis of each SEC team’s non-conference schedule this year and determined that Alabama has the easiest slate of the bunch. We don’t appear to be alone in that determination.
Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports released his own rankings regarding the difficulty of each SEC team’s schedule. The Crimson Tide were deemed to have the least resistant road – mostly because of their non-conference slate.
Fornelli notes that Duke isn’t a particularly tough season-opening opponent, and that New Mexico State, Southern Miss and Western Carolina – the team’s other three non-conference opponents – aren’t hard matchups either.
Fornelli ranks South Carolina as having the hardest schedule – which we also agree with. Here’s what he had to say about Alabama:
Since 2010, Alabama’s nonconference schedules have been headlined by Louisville, Florida State, USC, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Michigan and Penn State. This year — it’s Duke. I’m not knocking the Blue Devils, but compared to those other opponents, they don’t carry that same kind of weight. The rest of Bama’s nonconference slate is New Mexico State, Southern Miss and Western Carolina. The Tide also avoid Georgia and Florida, but they do get South Carolina and Tennessee from the East. The toughest games will be on the road against Texas A&M and Auburn as well as at home against LSU. Oh, and Alabama doesn’t get the SOS booster shot of playing Alabama. Still, while the schedule isn’t easy by any stretch, compared to the rest of the SEC, it projects to be the lightest of the bunch.
It’s true – the fact that Alabama doesn’t have to play itself, as ridiculous as that sounds, makes the team’s schedule easier by default. But it’s also true that the Crimson Tide aren’t really challenging themselves outside of their conference this year.
Let the talk about Alabama's strength of schedule begin! pic.twitter.com/Lkt1JHhtsl
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) May 20, 2019
Alabama is expected to be a national title contender yet again this season. The only team with more hype heading into the 2019 campaign is Clemson.
You can check out Fornelli’s full rankings and explanations over at CBS.