Alabama's run to a national title would conclude with five straight out-of-state games

Crimson Tide photos / Alabama sophomore receiver John Metchie, who had two touchdown catches in last weekend's 42-13 defeat of Auburn, believes the top-ranked Crimson Tide will continue to be prepared for challenges in a season that contains no more games inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Should Alabama claim an 18th recognized national championship in college football this season and a sixth under coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide will have to accomplish it through a journey like never before.

For the first time since the Iron Bowl was revived in 1948 following a four-decade absence, the Crimson Tide are having to play multiple regular-season games after its annual showdown with Auburn due to scheduling adjustments resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Alabama improved to 8-0 with last Saturday's 42-13 taming of the rival Tigers inside Bryant-Denny Stadium, with the Crimson Tide scheduled to play at LSU this Saturday night and at Arkansas on Dec. 12.

Should Alabama win at LSU, the Crimson Tide would punch their ticket to a fifth trip to the Southeastern Conference championship game in the past seven years, and if an undefeated Alabama prevails inside Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium, an invitation to the Sugar Bowl would await as the top seed in the College Football Playoff. Winning in New Orleans would result in a trip to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, which means that an Alabama national title would involve winning five consecutive out-of-state games.

When Alabama claimed consecutive Associated Press national championships under Paul "Bear" Bryant in 1978-79, the Crimson Tide had the far simpler route of following up an Iron Bowl victory at Birmingham's Legion Field with a Sugar Bowl win.

"It doesn't really affect us where we play," sophomore receiver John Metchie said this week. "We're always ready to play whenever and wherever. As far as our upcoming games being away, I think we'll be ready - just like we've been ready for every game we've played so far."

Alabama remained No. 1 in Tuesday night's second installment of the College Football Playoff rankings, with Notre Dame, Clemson, Ohio State and Texas A&M again rounding out the top five. Florida was sixth for a second straight week, with Cincinnati, Georgia, Iowa State and Miami finishing out the top 10.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.