CFB PREVIEW: Alabama Crimson Tide vs Texas Longhorns
By Rory Daniels
The standout game of week 2 in college football sees the Alabama Crimson Tide face off against the Texas Longhorns.
The matchup will be an SEC battle from next year, but for now, it remains SEC vs. Big 12 as the Longhorns aim for a College Playoff spot before swapping conferences.
It provided an exciting game last year, with the Tide outlasting Texas in a thrilling 20-19 victory.
Story so far…
Both teams come into the game undefeated following straightforward tune-up games in Week 1. Alabama rode out 56-7 victors over Middle Tennessee, while Texas were too good for in-state rival Rice, defeating them 37-10.
Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian, a former Alabama offensive coordinator, went to Tuscaloosa to rejuvenate his coaching profile and appears to have done just that. While at Texas, ‘Sark’ has rebuilt the program through the transfer portal and the recruiting trail. Now he has a roster with the offensive firepower and strength in the trenches needed to compete to an SEC level.
Nick Saban provided the blueprint for those foundations on the opposite side of the field. His success was neatly encapsulated in a recent piece by Alex Chinery here. Despite what was considered a down year in 2022, Alabama still has more high-star prospects on their team than anyone else in the country. They fully expect to be in the playoff picture come season end.
It’s fair to say there was a mild sense of panic around the Alabama quarterback job post-spring. Replacing Bryce Young was always a difficult task. But, when new offensive coordinator Tommy Rees pulled his former QB for Notre Dame, Tyler Buchner, out of the transfer portal, Alabama appeared lost for ideas.
After a strong fall camp, the pre-season favourite Jalen Milroe would keep the job and lead the Crimson Tide into Week 1. His size, arm talent and athleticism were too much for Middle Tennessee, and his display will reassure fans they have a player who can at least keep them in games, even if he isn’t a game-changer.
For Texas, former no.1 overall recruit Quinn Ewers heads up the most talented QB room in the nation, with backup Maalik Murphy and freshman Arch Manning waiting in the wings. Ewers wants to add more consistency to his game and prove himself as a legitimate draft prospect. He has shown great promise, particularly in this fixture last year, until he was forced out of the game with injury.
This matchup allows Ewers to prove he can unpick a talent-laden defense.
Prospects to watch…
Kool-Aid McKinstry – McKinstry has the opportunity to be one of, if not the top cornerback in this draft class. He has the size and speed to match up with any receiver. He will be tested heavily by Texas’ deep receiving group.
Chris Braswell – Most of the preseason hype went to edge rusher Dallas Turner, but 4th-year defensive end Chris Braswell shouldn’t be overlooked. He grabbed a sack in the season opener, offering more power than the speedy Turner.
Jase McClellan – The running back group is by committee for now at Alabama, but Jase McClellan will likely be given the ball first. The Tide will want to control the game through their backs and Milroe’s legs.
Jaylan Ford – The linebacker only got 21 snaps in Week 1 but nabbed an interception and a PFF defensive grade of 91.9. He will likely lead this group and force Milroe to make plays through the air, rather than gashing them in the run game.
Xavier Worthy – Despite a bevvy of receiving options, Xavier Worthy appeared to remain Quinn Ewers’ primary target. He caught seven passes for 90 receiving yards and a touchdown in Week 1. He will relish going up against such an experienced Alabama secondary.
This one looks set to be a blockbuster. While I favour Ewers over Milroe, I think the strength in depth and home advantage means the Crimson Tide edge a close one.
Alabama 37-34 Texas
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com.