Why is Alabama playing at South Florida this week?

Even if they have taken a step back, college football still runs through Alabama. So why are the Crimson Tide on the road against USF in Week 3?
Middle Tennessee v Alabama
Middle Tennessee v Alabama / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Outside of a marquee or SEC matchup, we aren't particularly accustomed to seeing the Alabama Crimson Tide playing away from Tuscaloosa. And if that were ever going to happen, you wouldn't think it would be going to Tampa, FL to play the South Florida Bulls.

Yet here we are in Week 3 of the 2023 college football season. Right there on the schedule is Alabama playing a road game against South Florida one week after welcoming Texas to Bryant-Denny Stadium -- a game in which the Longhorns were not hospitable guests, handing the Tide a 34-24 loss.

This is the first time in 31 years that Alabama football has played a non-Power-5 team on the road as part of their non-conference schedule. That in itself, in addition to the simple shock of seeing the matchup on any scorebug, begs the question: Why is Alabama playing at USF?

Why is Alabama playing at South Florida?

The simple answer to Alabama playing in Tampa at USF is that it was a scheduling agreement between the two football programs. Whereas we often see the Crimson Tide and other major programs schedule a home-and-home matchup (each team gets a home game in the two-game series), Bama schedule a 2-for-1 with USF.

In essence, in exchange for visiting Tuscaloosa twice in recent or coming years, Alabama will visit Tampa once, which is happening this week in the 2023 season.

Oftentimes when smaller college football programs agree to visit Alabama or another team that's sure to beat them, they do so with a massive payday for the program in mind. However, USF's deal is a bit sweeter. Not only did they likely get a nice check for visiting Bryant-Denny, but now they will also reap the rewards of ticket sales for the 2023 game with Bama fans flocking to Tampa.

Now, Alabama will be giving Tyler Buchner his first start for the Crimson Tide on the road. As is so often the case, just follow the money as to why that's happening.

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