Alabama to open Bryant-Denny Stadium at diminished capacity

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 05: The LSU Tigers against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 05: The LSU Tigers against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

There will be Alabama football fans in attendance at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Alabama football fans can watch games at Bryant-Denny Stadium this season.

According to Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News, “Alabama has announced its ticket plan for the 2020 football season including approximately 20 percent capacity and a facemask requirement at BDS and no tailgating activities on campus. UA announced the policy in an e-mail sent to Tide Pride members.” So we’re looking at roughly 20,000 fans attending each Alabama game in 2020.

Will 20-percent crowds still make Bryant-Denny a tough place to play?

Bryant-Denny is one of the most difficult road environments for an SEC team to play in. Very rarely do the Alabama Crimson Tide drop a game in Tuscaloosa, although they did fall at home to the eventual College Football Playoff National Champion LSU Tigers in 2019. However, there is no shame in this, as that Bayou Bengals team was one of the greatest teams ever assembled.

Even if it is a fifth full, the opposition still has to play the Crimson Tide in their place. It’s essentially a certain defeat unless your quarterback is named Joe Burrow or Cam Newton. To see what Alabama will be up against at home this year, let’s look at the Crimson Tide’s season schedule, see who’s coming to T-Town and who’ll be the least affected by a reduced capacity crowd.

Alabama football 2020 home opponents

  • Texas A&M Aggies: Oct. 3
  • Georgia Bulldogs: Oct. 17
  • Mississippi State Bulldogs: Oct. 31
  • Kentucky Wildcats: Nov. 21
  • Auburn Tigers: Nov. 28

Though Alabama will be favored in all five of these games, having a reduced capacity crowd could impact three of those high-stakes games: Texas A&M on Oct. 3, Georgia on Oct. 17 and Auburn on Nov. 28 in the Iron Bowl. Nobody could be in the stands when Mississippi State or Kentucky comes to town and Alabama would win going away easily. As for the other three games, not so much.

2020 might be the year Texas A&M “pops” under third-year head coach Jimbo Fisher. 2019 yielded the Aggies a beyond brutal 12-game, regular-season schedule they had no hope of navigating. While they still have a tough slate, not having to play in Tuscaloosa in front of 101,000 rabid Alabama fans gives Fisher a snowball’s chance to be the first protege to beat Nick Saban.

Though Auburn may benefit from playing in front of a reduced capacity crowd, it’s still the Iron Bowl, so anything and everything can happen in that rivalry game. It doesn’t matter how many fans are in attendance of that particular ball game, as either team from the Yellowhammer State has shown it can beat its most hated rival any given season. Does this help Auburn? Of course!

As for Georgia, knowing Bryant-Denny will only be a fifth full gives the Dawgs an edge. Though Saban has beaten Georgia every meeting since 2008, the last time the Dawgs came to T-Town, Mark Richt’s squad won. Of course, that was Saban’s first year leading the Crimson Tide. A year later in 2008, they humiliated the Dawgs in Athens in primetime and never looked back.

It sounds minuscule, but playing in front of a 20-percent crowd might make a trip to Tuscaloosa feel like a road to Nashville to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores for the Dawgs. Obviously, the level of competition will be better than what they usually get out of Derek Mason’s team, but not having to beat Alabama and the home crowd surely helps the Dawgs’ shot of an upset.

A reduced capacity crowd makes sense at Bryant-Denny, but it could hurt the Tide’s mystique.

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