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Alabama opened last football season with a 51-14 rout of Louisville in Orlando, Florida, and will open this season against Duke in Atlanta.

Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne addressed the Crimson Tide's nonconference schedule this past weekend after ESPN ranked it among the 10 easiest in college football.

The Tide will open their 2019 season against Duke at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game inside Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Aug. 31. They also have nonconference contests against New Mexico State, Southern Mississippi and Western Carolina.

"Scheduling is challenging," Byrne posted on Twitter. "It takes two teams to make it work where there is mutual interest and dates that work."

Alabama's matchup against Duke, which has earned bowl trips six of the past seven seasons under coach David Cutcliffe, will occur a year after the Tide opened with a 51-14 rout of Louisville in Orlando, Florida. Louisville entered last season having made eight consecutive bowl trips but spiraled to a 2-10 record.

Two years ago, Alabama opened against Florida State at Mercedes-Benz in the first opening matchup of top-three teams in college football history. The Tide used the 24-7 win as the first step to the 2017 national championship, while the Seminoles stumbled to a 7-6 season that ended in the Independence Bowl.

Alabama has neutral-site openers against Southern California in 2020 and Miami in 2021 before shifting to home-and-home series against Texas (2022-23), West Virginia (2026-27), Notre Dame (2028-29) and Oklahoma (2032-33).

"We are very appreciative of the schools who have agreed to H&H series (TX, WVU, ND & OU)," Byrne posted. "Working on more & occasional neutral."

ESPN had Baylor's nonconference slate of Stephen F. Austin, Texas-San Antonio and Rice as college football's easiest for 2019. Also ranking among the 10 easiest were Arkansas (Portland State, Colorado State, San Jose State and Western Kentucky), Kentucky (Toledo, Eastern Michigan, UT-Martin and Louisville) and Tennessee (Georgia State, BYU, UT-Chattanooga and Alabama-Birmingham).

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

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