In the preseason, the obvious difficult stretch for Alabama was the three-game series beginning with Arkansas. The Crimson Tide would face the Razorbacks and Tennessee on the road, followed by a home game against Texas A&M.
Now the time is here and, if anything, the three-game stretch leading up to Alabama’s lone open date of the year looks even more menacing.
Arkansas is ranked 16th this week with a 4-1 record, its only loss to seventh-ranked and undefeated Texas A&M, and Tennessee is 5-0 and ranked ninth in the nation.
The road begins Saturday in Fayetteville with kickoff at 6 p.m. CDT and ESPN televising the game.
That will be followed Oct. 15 with No. 1 ranked Alabama going to Knoxville to face the Vols, who were preseason favorites to win the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division.
The one home game in the stretch is Oct. 22 against Texas A&M, which has been the surprise team of the conference.
Alabama’s most recent three-game stretch against ranked teams was quite successful, starting championship play at the end of last year with a 29-15 win over Florida in the SEC Championship Game, followed by a 38-0 win over Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl in the semifinal round of the College Football Playoff, and finishing with a 45-40 win over No. 1 ranked Clemson in the CFP Championship Game.
Those games, however, were spread out over a five-week period and all were played at neutral sites.
The last time Bama played three consecutive SEC games against ranked teams was in 2010, when the Tide was ranked No. 1. Alabama took care of No. 10 Arkansas on the road and No. 7 Florida at home, but fell to No. 19 South Carolina in Columbia.
In 1999 and in 2002 the Tide defeated ranked SEC opponents in three consecutive games, but had an open date in each stretch.
Since the Associated Press began ranking teams, Alabama’s all-time record against ranked teams is 146-124-7 and Bama has an eight-game winning streak against ranked teams going into this week.
The Tide’s all-time record as a ranked team is 492-122-9.