Alabama football capped off its 2022 season in style on New Year’s Eve, defeating Kansas State 45-20 in the Sugar Bowl. Bryce Young put on a show in his presumably final college game, throwing for 321 yards and five touchdowns. The defense also played very well, racking up eight sacks and two takeaways on the day.

Despite the win, there’s still an air of disappointment surrounding Alabama’s 2022 season. At nearly any other school, an 11-2 season with a New Year’s Six bowl win would be an outstanding season. At Alabama, though, it’s national championship or bust every year, and by that standard, this year was a bust.

Some have even proclaimed that this season might be the beginning of the end for the Alabama football dynasty. With two losses and Georgia growing in power to rival Alabama, some think that the Crimson Tide’s crown might be slipping. However, as the Tide showed on Saturday, they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

With that said, here are three reasons why Alabama will return to the College Football Playoff in 2023.

3. Alabama only lost this season on the last play of the game

On paper, two regular-season losses is terrible by Alabama standards, and to an extent, it is. On the other hand, it’s important to consider how those losses took occurred.

In the Tennessee game, Alabama lost on a game-winning field goal as time expired. In the LSU game, Alabama lost on a walk-off 2-point conversion in overtime. Notice a pattern there? Both losses only occurred on the final play of the game.

Additionally, both losses came on the road in front of raucous crowds of 100,000+ people. If it takes a team of comparable talent with tons of loud fans in the stands until the very last play to beat Alabama, then that means Alabama is really good. The Tide never go down without a fight, and that will always keep them in the playoff picture.

2. Ridiculous recruiting class

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Alabama has routinely pulled in top recruiting classes under Nick Saban, which has allowed them to be so dominant. Even with that high bar, the 2023 recruiting class might be Saban’s best yet.

After Early Signing Day, Alabama now has an absurd seven five-star recruits signed already. All seven of those players are in the top 25 recruits in the nation and could be impact players immediately. Oh, yeah, and they have 20 four-stars as well, and still have National Signing Day to add even more talent.

The one place Alabama could put more work in is the transfer portal. The Tide have only signed one transfer so far, tight end CJ Dippre from Maryland. However, with how successful the Tide have been in the transfer portal before, they will surely grab some more talent soon.

There might be concerns about reloading at quarterback with Young’s departure, but Alabama has faced that question plenty of times in the past and always come out just fine. With the stellar recruiting class coming in, as well as another year of development for the existing roster, Alabama will be a force once again in 2023.

1. Alabama football will be back with a vengeance

Alabama not playing for the national championship in 2022 was a very strange feeling. In the College Football Playoff era, the Tide have missed the final four only one other time. That came in 2019, when Tua Tagovailoa suffered a season-ending injury in November.

In 2020, though, Alabama came back with a vengeance. The Tide steamrolled everyone on their schedule, capping the season off with a national title.

Now, crowning Alabama the 2023 national champions based on this one example is a bit premature. However, it’s not unreasonable to believe that the Tide will return to the playoff after a down season. They never stay down for long, and they’ll be back again for the foreseeable future.