For the first time since hosting Kent State in 2011, Alabama football opened a season at home on Saturday, so after a decade of empty silence at Bryant-Denny Stadium as the Crimson Tide forged its first points victory all over the map, things felt a bit better. a little different.
For gamers, a matchup of neutral-site starters against featured opponents from the Power Five; for fans, the arrival of alcohol availability and cashless outlets throughout the stadium.
But it was the status quo that remained that mattered most, at least for one night: The Crimson Tide looked dominant as they defeated Utah State 55-0 for their 21st straight season-opening win. There were walk-in touchdowns and stifling defense and all the gleeful enthusiasm that naturally attaches to the hip of 1-0 starts.
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Simultaneously, as star quarterback Bryce Young was stringing together six touchdowns (five passes, one rushing) in less than three-quarters of the action, another feel-good story was unfolding some 750 miles west in Austin, Texas. There, the Texas Longhorns gave their fans the same warm feeling by defeating Louisiana-Monroe 52-10 for a hammering of their own at home.
Two tasty sips from the victory cup, neither of which came with a modicum of resistance from the opposition.
Earnings like that can be intoxicating. They can also be misleading.
Where is Alabama’s weak point? If it exists, the state of Utah has not proven capable of exposing it. As for Texas’s Achilles’ heel, that too remains hidden, camouflaged by the unlucky Warhawks in a game that ended at halftime. The coaching staffs at both venues will be working tirelessly this week to find the cracks, but it’s no easy task when poring over a blowout movie.
Whatever holes may be drilled in these two blue blood shows will be laid bare for a national television audience to see when the Crimson Tide travels to Austin in Week 2 for their first real test of the season.
And without specifically mentioning Texas, Alabama coach Nick Saban made reference to it.
“No disrespect to the state of Utah, their players played hard, they have a good little team. We’re going to play teams that are much more physical, aggressive and talented than they are,” Saban said. “So we’re going to have to do things right, and it’s going to be important for guys to understand that.”
Texas, ranked 18th in the USA Today Sports AFCA Coaches Poll, will welcome the Crimson Tide with some familiar faces, starting with former UA offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, now in his second season at the helm of Texas. A handful of transfers have also left Alabama for Texas, though you’d hardly have noticed from their impact on UT’s opener. The atmosphere at a place rich in tradition like Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium is worth a few points on its own, as long as the crowd has a reason to make as much noise as possible.
ESPN’s “College GameDay” program will also emanate from UT, as if more publicity is needed.
“We know we’re going into a hostile environment, so we’re going to learn as much as we can during the week. We’re going to study, we’re going to prepare, because we have a lot of respect for them,” Young said. “We know it’s going to take everything. We have to work hard all week to put ourselves in the best circumstances to be successful.”
A hostile environment, indeed.
And even more so for the team that discovers that it was not as good as its opening suggested.
Contact Chase Goodbread at [email protected] Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread
This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Alabama football will learn a lot against the Texas Longhorns