Alabama Football: 5 Important 2012 Games That Don't Feature the Crimson Tide

Jonathan McDanal@@jdmcdanalContributor IIIFebruary 29, 2012

Alabama Football: 5 Important 2012 Games That Don't Feature the Crimson Tide

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    Alabama fans are looking forward to the 2012 season already, and only A-Day offers a glimpse of what kind of machine Saban will be fielding next year.

    Most Tide fans have already circled Alabama's games on their 2012 calendars, and I am no exception. Michigan, Arkansas, Mizzouri and LSU are already circled in a brighter color than the other games, since they will be the toughest.

    Out of the hundreds of games that will not directly involve the Tide, I bring you the five games most worth your time.

Oregon @ USC—Saturday, 11/3/12

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    Nov. 3 already houses one of the most anticipated games of the season in Alabama at LSU.

    What some Tiders may not realize is that Oregon, USC, Alabama and LSU all stand a chance of being undefeated at sun-up on this Saturday.

    If that happens, then there will be four undefeated teams sitting atop the BCS, AP and USA Today rankings at the beginning of the week.

    When the final whistle blows at the Oregon game, the top two teams in the nation will likely be the only two undefeated teams left standing.

    Alabama fans should watch this game because it features two of the biggest contenders to face them in the BCS title game.

Michigan @ Ohio State—Saturday, 11/24/12

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    There is a chance that the Wolverines could have already dropped out of the title race at this point in time. A loss to 'Bama in the season opener may stagger them beyond recovery.

    However, if Michigan can come back from that tough loss to defeat Nebraska and Michigan State, then the Buckeyes will be the last obstacle between them and the B1G Championship Game.

    Ohio State will be more focused than they were in 2011. The 2012 season will not see the turmoil of a departed Jim Tressel, and it will be the rookie year of Urban Meyer in Columbus.

    If Michigan ends the 2012 season with only one loss (to Alabama), then the deciding factor could be Championship Weekend. (Pac-12, Big XII or B1G champion advancing to face the SEC champion in the title game.)

Wisconsin vs. TBD—Saturday, 12/1/12

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    It was difficult to pick one game to watch Wisconsin play next year, as their only real competition resides in Ohio and against the other division's champion.

    With Urban Meyer in his first year, and Wisconsin not being a true rival, I predict Wisconsin playing Michigan in the B1G Championship.

    Ohio State will be looking to reassert its dominance in 2012, but you don't go from 6-7 and a bowl loss to Florida all the way to championship contention in one year. (Unless Nick "The Rebuilder" Saban is at the helm.)

    Wisconsin versus Michigan for the B1G title game.

LSU @ Arkansas—Saturday, 11/24/12

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    Should Alabama lose its game against either Arkansas or LSU, this game will have the most bearing on whether the Tide plays in Atlanta.

    If Alabama is undefeated at this point, the winner will merely be a factor in the strength of schedule for the Tide.

    If these teams have both met with losses to the Tide, Bammers should root for the team with the better record.

    Beating one top-10 team will look better than beating two top-25 teams. Either way, this game will be one of two non-Iron Bowl games worth watching on Rivalry Weekend.

Georgia @ South Carolina—Saturday, 10/6/12

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    Though this game is early in the season, it will be between the two favorites to win the SEC Eastern crown.

    The Gamecocks and Marcus Lattimore will take on the Bulldogs and Aaron Murray in their own backyard.

    The South Carolina-Georgia game will be one of the most meaningful regular-season games of the year, and the winner will be the heavy favorite to represent its division in Atlanta in December.