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NCAAF · 21 days ago

Nick Saban’s Alabama Non-Conference History Versus Power Five Opponents

TJ Inman

TJ Inman

Nick Saban’s Alabama Non-Conference History Versus Power Five Opponents

The biggest college football game of Week 2, and potentially the biggest non-conference game in 2023, takes place this weekend as the Alabama Crimson Tide hosts the Texas Longhorns. Alabama enters the game as a 7.5-point favorite, and they beat Texas in a hotly-contested affair in Austin in 2022. This is far from the first big non-conference game Alabama has played under Nick Saban. The legendary coach took over as the head coach at Alabama before the 2007 season.

The Tide have won five national championships under Saban, but how have the Crimson Tide performed in these big games?

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Season Non-Conference P5 Opponent Result
2007 Florida State (in Jacksonville) Loss – 21-14
2008 Clemson (in Atlanta) Win – 34-10
2009 Virginia Tech (in Atlanta) Win – 34-24
2010 Penn State Win – 24-3
2010 at Duke

Win – 62-13

2011 at Penn State Win – 27-11
2012 Michigan (in Arlington, TX) Win – 41-14
2013 Virginia Tech (in Atlanta) Win – 35-10
2014 West Virginia (in Atlanta) Win – 33-23
2015 Wisconsin (in Arlington, TX) Win – 35-17
2016 USC (in Arlington, TX) Win – 52-6
2017 Florida State (in Atlanta) Win – 24-7
2018 Louisville (in Orlando) Win – 51-14
2019 Duke (in Atlanta) Win – 42-3
2021 Miami (in Atlanta) Win – 44-13
2022 at Texas Win – 20-19

During Nick Saban’s tenure in Tuscaloosa, the Alabama Crimson Tide have played sixteen non-conference opponents (not counting postseason games). The Tide lost the first of those matchups by a score of 21-14 against the Florida State Seminoles. Remarkably, Alabama has not lost a non-conference game since, reeling off 15 straight contests and winning by an average margin of 24.7 points per game. That is remarkably dominant. The current series against Texas represents a slight departure from Saban’s typical scheduling philosophy. Instead of playing the Longhorns in Atlanta or a different neutral venue, the two powerhouses are playing at each campus. 

Alabama’s largest margin of victory during this stretch was an emphatic win over the Southern California Trojans in 2016. USC had a flashy entrance with players pretending to hold other players back while acting like wild dogs before charging onto the field. Alabama responded by flattening the Trojans, romping to a 52-6 victory. Alabama will continue the on-campus games next season as they travel to Madison to play the Wisconsin Badgers in September 2024. In 2025, the Crimson Tide will host Wisconsin in the return game. In addition, they will kick off the season with a terrific game at Florida State on August 31. 

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