Bulls schedule series with Alabama

The Crimson Tide will face USF in September 2023 at Raymond James Stadium. ORACLE FILE PHOTO

There will be no need for USF football fans to chant “We want ‘Bama.”

At least for a few years, that is.

That’s because USF and 17-time national champion Alabama have agreed to a two-for-one series starting in 2023, Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly announced Thursday.

The three-game series begins with a Sept. 16, 2023, meeting in Tampa. The final two games of the series will be played in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 7, 2024, and Sept. 12, 2026.

“We are very excited to open the Alabama series in Tampa in 2023,” Kelly said in a statement, “and to add one of the most successful brands in American sports to a very exciting list of future opponents that will give our student-athletes and coaches a great opportunity to compete against the best programs in the nation.”

USF and Alabama have only met once previously, with the Crimson Tide winning 40-17 in Tuscaloosa on Aug. 30, 2003, when USF was in its third season in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).

The 2023 game in Tampa will mark the Crimson Tide’s first trip to Raymond James Stadium since the 2017 CFP National Championship Game, where Alabama lost 35-31 to Clemson.

The addition of the Alabama two-for-one comes a little more than a week after USF announced a two-for-one with Miami starting in 2025, which didn’t come without some controversy.

In the days following the announcement of the Miami series, UCF Athletic Director Danny White criticized USF for signing the deal and others like it. This includes a two-for-one with Florida starting in 2021, with White saying they are setting a precedent he doesn’t like being set in the AAC “for schools to start doing a much higher volume of two-for-ones.”

But it’s not always easy to draw teams like the Crimson Tide out of Tuscaloosa. Alabama has not traveled to a non-Automatic Qualifier (Power Five, in more contemporary terms) opponent since 1992, according to college football website Pick Six Previews, though according to the Tampa Bay Times, Alabama’s last non-Power road game was in 2003.

Regardless, USF’s scheduling philosophy has left it with an impressive upcoming nonconference schedule. In the next 10 seasons, the Bulls are scheduled to take on 17 Power Five opponents, which is tied for the most in the AAC. Six of USF’s future opponents can claim a total of 34 national championships.

USF, which has played a total of seven games against SEC opponents in its 22-year history, is currently scheduled to play six games against teams from the SEC between 2021 and 2026.

Thursday’s announcement completes USF’s 2024 schedule. The Bulls are set to host Louisville, North Carolina State and Western Kentucky, while traveling to Alabama. Both 2023 and 2026 still have one nonconference date open, even with the addition of the Crimson Tide.

In addition to the Alabama announcement, it was also announced a previously scheduled game against Florida Atlantic — which was moved in order to schedule the series with Florida — will be played Sept. 5, 2026.