It’s Finally Here: Breakdown, Prediction for Alabama vs. Texas
(Photo via Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire)
After an offseason full of buildup, we’ve finally arrived at one of the most anticipated games in recent history. Alabama vs. Texas is likely the biggest non-conference game in Bryant-Denny Stadium history, and really one of the most looked forward to games overall. Let’s get into the matchup, give some guys to watch for, and give a prediction:
The question that loomed over Alabama all offseason long was answered at Bryant-Denny on Saturday night with Jalen Milroe taking every meaningful snap at quarterback against MTSU. The question that still remains, however, is how Milroe will perform once again in a high-pressure situation against real competition.
Obviously, the sample size from last season was not good for Milroe. He struggled as a passer against Arkansas in relief of the injured Byrce Young, followed by an overall dreadful performance against a Texas A&M team that had no business taking it down to the last play in Tuscaloosa.
While Milroe certainly looked improved from last season in week one and quelled the questions about who the starter is, he needs to show it against a team with a pulse. And Texas has a whole lot more than just a pulse.
The Longhorn offense is full of stars led by the brightest of them in quarterback Quinn Ewers. The undeniable reality is that had Ewers not been injured in the matchup last season, Texas almost assuredly would have defeated Bryce Young and the Crimson Tide.
Texas also boasts a trio of three of the best receivers in the nation in Xavier Worthy, Jordan Whittington, and Adonai Mitchell. While the Horns are replacing star running back Bijan Robinson, they have one of the best offensive lines in the nation to help block for the committee of Jaydon Blue and Jonathan Brooks.
I am of the belief that the defense, which was getting torn up in last year’s game before Ewers’ injury, has significantly improved under Kevin Steele. To expect a complete shutting down of this high-flying offense would be unrealistic, but Alabama cannot afford to put Jalen Milroe in a spot where he has to win a shootout.
In an arms race where touchdowns are being scored left and right, Alabama will be outmanned and outgunned. If the Longhorns are able to make Milroe beat them with his arm, Alabama does not have a great chance.
The Crimson Tide must control the clock, run the ball effectively, and at least limit the Texas offense. A key matchup will be Alabama’s new look offensive line against a Texas front that gave it a ton of trouble last season. In an ideal world, the Crimson Tide only throw the ball around 20 times and are able to bully the Longhorns all night with the run game.
Another huge matchup will be Alabama’s receivers and their ability to create separation against Texas’ secondary. Milroe is not a tight-window passer, while MTSU did not present a challenge for the pass catchers, Texas will. The group must help Milroe and get open with consistency.
The Tide are dealing with injuries to two key members of their secondary in safeties Malachi Moore and Jaylen Key, with Saban calling both day-to-day and it still being a question as to whether or not they’ll play. Any loss in the secondary will hurt an Alabama team that is preparing to deal with a juggernaut of a Texas offense, so keep an eye on the statuses of both players.
When it comes to a prediction for this one, I have flipped back and forth quite a bit. On one hand, I could absolutely foresee a scenario where Texas picks up right where they left off against Alabama before Quinn Ewers was injured, Milroe struggles, and this game gets away from Alabama. On the other, Alabama is a better team across the board at all positions besides quarterback in 2023 and Texas will not catch them by surprise again.
Throw in the fact that Nick Saban has only lost eight times at Bryant-Denny Stadium since taking over at Alabama, and I simply cannot pick against Alabama here. The Crimson Tide win in an early-season thriller on Saturday night.
Prediction: Alabama 31, Texas 27