Stuart McNair

Alabama has a long history of football success playing against ranked teams

Nick Saban has an Alabama record of 49-15 against ranked teams

As has often been pointed out, Alabama football has a model of its “tough” non-conference game each year being the neutral site games, including last year against Southern Cal in the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
A.P. Steadham did an enterprising piece of journalism recently suggesting that Bama’s opening on the 2020 schedule might very well be a rematch against USC in Arlington.
That story made it to Scout’s Southern Cal site,, and was met with mostly enthusiasm, though like many Alabama fans the Trojans followers would prefer a home-and-away schedule with the Crimson Tide, one game in Tuscaloosa and one in Los Angeles.
Others hoped that the next matchup would be in this year’s College Football Playoff national championship game.
But then came this surprising notation: Nick Saban and UA do not like out of conference teams who are competitive, especially if their name is USC.
Another complained that “It’s been decades” since Alabama scheduled a game against a good USC team, and that last year’s game should have been played in Los Angeles to give the Trojans a chance. The poster added, “With their coaching, non existent academics, huge support staff, and pussy schedules piled on top of their massive talent advantage, they should never lose a game. Yet they do and lose some very big ones at that.”
One poster did point out that Alabama “consistently schedules tradition-rich programs.”
With the Southeastern Conference having only eight league games (something that Saban has been the lone voice of SEC coaches wanting changed to nine games), Bama has four non-conference games per year. No one can argue that in most years three of those are cupcakes.
Obviously, a couple of those points are ludicrous. Alabama cannot unilaterally schedule USC, but the results against the Trojans haven’t been bad. Alabama has a 6-2 record against Southern Cal. Four of those games (all Alabama wins) have been in California, two in Birmingham, one in the Aloha Bowl in Hawaii, and last year’s game in Texas.
The Crimson Tide’s 34-14 win over USC in the Rose Bowl at the end of the 1945 season resulted in the Pac-8 (at that time) deciding it had had enough of Alabama, which was then 4-1-1 against the best of their league in Pasadena. They closed up shop, making the Granddaddy of Bowl games almost irrelevant most years with its champion against the Big Ten champion.
Alabama’s wins in LA included a 17-10 win over the fifth-ranked Trojans as the Tide unveiled the wishbone offense in 1971 and the 1977 win over No. 1 USC by 21-20.
In the Saban era, Alabama’s neutral site games have included Florida State in Jacksonville (not too neutral), No.9 Clemson in Atlanta, No. 7 Virginia Tech in Atlanta, No. 8 Michigan in Arlington, Virginia Tech in Atlanta, West Virginia in Atlanta, No. 20 Wisconsin in Atlanta, and last year against No. 17 USC in Arlington.
And that USC team that Alabama defeated 52-6 went on to win the Pac-12 and defeat Penn State in the Rose Bowl.
Since the advent of the Associated Press poll in 1936, Alabama has played 286 games against ranked teams and has a record of 154-125-7, a 55.1 winning percentage.
Last year Bama was 9-1 against ranked teams. In Saban’s 10 years at the helm of the Tide, Alabama has played 64 games against ranked opponents and has a record of 49-15 (76.6 per cent). His overall record of 119-19 (86.2 per cent) includes six losses in his first season. Of his 19 losses, 15 have come against ranked teams, and he is 5-2 against teams ranked No. 1, three of those wins for the national championship.His fourth national championship was No. 1 Bama beating No. 2 Texas in the Rose Bowl.

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