Alabama football is roughly a month into the 2024 offseason and it has been an absolute whirlwind. After losing to Michigan in the Rose Bowl College Football Playoff semifinal, head coach Nick Saban decided to retire and chaos ensued.
The Crimson Tide hired former Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer to be the successor to Saban, and he has his work cut out for him.
Once DeBoer was brought on staff, a handful of players hit the transfer portal and some high-profile commits reopened their recruitments, though he was able to land a re-commitment from five-star wide receiver Ryan Williams. However, that’s not where the uncertainty ends for Alabama.
The 2024 season will not just come with more than just a new coach on the sidelines of Bryant-Denny Stadium and a somewhat new-looking team on the field. The SEC welcomes in two new teams and has gotten rid of divisions, the College Football Playoff format expanded to 12 teams and the questions stemming from the transfer portal and name, image, likeness policy have yet to be answered.
How will all of this impact Alabama’s performance next season? For a clear answer, we will have to wait and see. For now, let’s try our best to make some predictions.
Western Kentucky (Aug. 31)
The Kalen DeBoer Era begins in Tuscaloosa with a home game against Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers are a respectable program, and the team will try its hardest to have DeBoer begin his Alabama tenure 0-1. I don’t believe they’ll be able to do it, as the Crimson Tide has a strong roster and DeBoer has established himself as a high-quality coach with a strong coaching staff around him. Look for this game to set the tone for Alabama.
Prediction: Alabama 41, Western Kentucky 20
USF (Sept. 7)
Last season, Alabama traveled to Tampa to take on the University of South Florida. Though the Tide got the win, it was hideous. Jalen Milroe was benched and the offense couldn’t get anything going. This time around, the game is in Tuscaloosa and the team should be in a more cohesive state when facing the Bulls than they were last season.
Prediction: Alabama 52, USF 10
@ Wisconsin (Sept. 14)
A rare trip to Big Ten country will make for a very intriguing matchup. Alabama and Wisconsin have only faced off twice before. The first matchup was one by the Badgers in 1928, but the Crimson Tide got the most recent win in 2015. Last season, Wisconsin went 7-6, but they are always expected to put up a fight. With this game being in Madison, it could get interesting.
Prediction: Alabama 37, Wisconsin 23
Georgia (Sept. 28)
Kirby Smart finally gets to coach in a world without Nick Saban on the opposite sideline. He didn’t do so hot against Saban, as the Bulldogs only won one game against him, but he was one of the Tide’s toughest competitors. It was rare for a game to not have multiple lead changes or late-game drama. That being said, DeBoer is a great coach with a strong track record, he’s automatically one of the best coaches in the conference, but he needs some time to feel things out when it comes to taking down the elite. Being in Tuscaloosa helps Alabama, but Kirby wants and needs to win this game to establish himself and his program as the team to beat in the SEC.
Prediction: Georgia 27, Alabama 21
@ Vanderbilt (Oct. 5)
Vanderbilt enters every season with a chip on its shoulder, but catastrophic failure tends to take place at around Week 3 or 4. Sure, this isn’t Nick Saban’s team anymore, but Alabama is still Alabama and Vanderbilt is still Vanderbilt (for now). Head coach Clark Lea has a vision for this team and I think many people would agree with me when I say it would be fun to watch the Commodores play at a higher level and win. It just won’t happen against Alabama.
Prediction: Alabama 45, Vanderbilt 14
South Carolina (Oct. 12)
Head Coach Shane Beamer has set high expectations for himself and his team. The Gamecocks finished strong in 2022, but that momentum did not carry over into 2023. A lot can change before the season, but as things stand, the needle has not moved away from Alabama despite all the changes.
Prediction: Alabama 31, South Carolina 16
@ Tennessee (Oct. 19)
Tennessee got a win against Alabama in 2022 and it could not have come at a better time for the Vols. The program managed to earn a win over Nick Saban before he retired. In 2023, Josh Heupel’s team had the Tide in the first half but managed to lose it in the second half. The Third Saturday in October should get more interesting with DeBoer at the helm of the Alabama program. Expect it to be closer, especially with the game being at Neyland Stadium, but the presence of Saban in the program will allow for him to remind the players of the weight of this game.
Prediction: Alabama 45, Tennessee 42
Missouri (Oct. 26)
This will be Alabama’s homecoming game, so expect a big turnout and plenty of Crimson Tide pride. Missouri in 2023 impressed many and ended the season on a high note with a win over Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl. Fans should expect a great game that will be decided by the defense. For that reason, I believe Alabama earns the narrow win.
Prediction: Alabama 24, Missouri 17
@ LSU (Nov. 9)
Brian Kelly found some success early in his coaching career at LSU. In his first season with the Tigers, they took down Alabama at home. Last season, the Tide got the win at home, but they must now travel back to Baton Rouge without Nick Saban. LSU lost its top playmaker in quarterback Jayden Daniels, so this came is still somewhat unclear. As things stand, the Crimson Tide should be favored.
Prediction: Alabama 27, LSU 21
Mercer (Nov. 16)
Alabama will host Mercer in a game that many will overlook, but Crimson Tide fans should carry the Saban mentality of approaching every opponent as the most important game on the schedule. DeBoer should instill that mantra with this team in 2024.
Prediction: Alabama 52, Mercer 7
@ Oklahoma (Nov. 23)
Oklahoma, welcome to the SEC. Facing Alabama was probably a scary sight for many fans at first, but they have likely calmed down since they now know Nick Saban won’t be the one coaching and that it will be a home game. In 2023, Oklahoma went 10-3, but the Sooners are always liable to play hard and win competitive regular season games. With this being so late in the season, it could have major conference and College Football Playoff implications.
Prediction: Alabama 31, Oklahoma 27
Auburn (Nov. 30)
With or without Nick Saban, the Iron Bowl is always a fascinating game to watch. Everyone remembers how the 2023 game ended, as these games in Jordan Hare consistently offer some entertaining drama. Now, Auburn will make the short trip to Tuscaloosa. Hugh Freeze is a strong SEC coach, but it’s unclear whether he can elevate this team to a level that is capable of beating Alabama in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Prediction: Alabama 28, Auburn 17