Alabama Football: 5 Teams the Tide Might Face in the National Championship

Jimmy McMurreyAnalyst IISeptember 21, 2012

Alabama Football: 5 Teams the Tide Might Face in the National Championship

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    The Alabama Crimson Tide seem to be perfectly on course to the national championship game in January, but who will meet them there?

    The preseason rankings have proven—yet again—to have been completely pointless as some of the biggest names have shifted around quite a bit.

    The Tide will fight for the title so let's explore the mystery of who the opponent might be.

    Here are my picks for the teams most likely to face Bama for the national title, from least to most with their current AP ranking listed.

No. 13 USC Trojans

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    The USC Trojans may have dropped the game against Stanford while quarterback Matt Barkley looked like anything but a Heisman contender, but they aren't out of the game yet.

    They dropped from the top of the polls to 13th in the AP after just three weeks, but their loss came at the perfect time against the perfect opponent. 

    They have plenty of time to recover and make voters forget about that loss, and Stanford is quite a respectable team nowadays, even without Andrew Luck.

    The odds of them winning all of their remaining games, however, seems low. The road goes right through Oregon, a surprisingly good Notre Dame team and a slew of would-be upsetters.

    They must also face an underrated Cal team that took Ohio State to the wire in a 35-28 loss.

    The Trojans are still in the hunt, but there are many teams ahead of them with better chances to meet Alabama.

No. 4 Florida State Seminoles

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    The little brother to the Florida Gators is on the verge of returning to greatness, but at this point in the season it's more than safe to call them overrated.

    They are No. 4 in all the rankings but who have they played to prove it? The mighty Murray State and Savannah State?

    Sure, they put a licking on a decent Wake Forest team with a 52-0 blowout, and though the ACC is not as weak a conference as some might think, it's still not the SEC.

    They could drop a game or two, but they have the best chance of any team in their conference to run the table.

    Yes, ACC rival Clemson has quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins, but Florida State's 6'5", 240-pound senior quarterback EJ Manuel is no slouch.

    It's more about FSU's defense. You know, that thing they say wins championships.

    The 'Noles could be fielding a type of defense that is rarely seen outside of the SEC. They have big, fast, physical players that have also pitched two shutouts in a row against outmatched competition.

No. 8 West Virginia Mountaineers

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    West Virginia has plenty of problems on defense and the Mountaineers are now in a tougher conference, the Big 12. But they have a shot and a good one at that.

    And it's all because of their Heisman hopeful quarterback, Geno Smith.

    Smith is looking strikingly similar to the 2011 version of Robert Griffin III. Smith completed 66-of-75 attempts for 734 yards and nine touchdowns in only two games.

    True, they were against outmatched teams Marshall and James Madison (the small school that toppled a great Virginia Tech team in 2010), but look at the ratio of incomplete passes to touchdowns.

    Look familiar?

    Smith's team is better and more complete than the 2011 Baylor Bears so this team could go all the way.

No. 2 LSU Tigers

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    Alabama still has to get through LSU to make it to the national championship, but the showdown in November could prove to be pointless.

    Some would say a rematch could never happen again, but the BCS still runs the game for now.

    If one of these two teams is undefeated with the other having only one loss, a rematch could take place for the second year in a row.

    A one-loss Alabama or LSU team could not possibly be overtaken by a two-loss team from another conference, a one-loss team with a weaker schedule or even an undefeated team with a garbage schedule like Boise State.

    So far the Tigers and Bama seem to be in a league of their own and there might not be a team that's even close.

    It wouldn't be a popular pick for the championship, but it's very realistic.

    Game of the Century Part 4? Let's hope it doesn't go the way of the Alien series with each sequel being worse than the last.

No. 9 Stanford Cardinal

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    The Stanford Cardinal is proving that there is more to team other than Jim Harbaugh, Toby Gerhart, and Andrew Luck. This is a legitimate program.

    USC has a chance to make it to the title game if it goes undefeated for the rest of the season, but the problem is that Stanford could go undefeated just as well.

    Luck's successor, Josh Nunes, is having a tough time replacing the first overall draft pick, completing only 53.4 percent of his passes with three interceptions, but the rest of the team is doing just fine.

    Running back Stepfan Taylor put up 153 yards on 27 carries in the USC matchup with a touchdown and shows no signs of slowing down during the season.

    On the defensive side, the Cardinal just might be the best in the Pac-12 after their showing against USC.

    Some might say USC lost the game because they are overrated. I say Stanford won the game because they are underrated.

    This team is going places and should handily win the Pac-12.

Teams on the Outside

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    Here are some teams that have a small chance at best to make it to the championship but still deserve a mention.


    No. 3 Oregon Ducks

    The Ducks have a potent offense yet again and are ranked pretty high but their defense looks terrible at best for a team with championship hopes. They gave up a whopping 73 combined points against completely outmatched opponents.

    The Ducks have to go through both Stanford and USC, and I don't see them beating either team.


    No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners

    The country saw that the receiver (Ryan Broyles) made the quarterback (Landry Jones) in 2011. Jones has not looked nearly as good since Broyles was injured and subsequently left for the NFL.

    The Sooners have a pretty tough schedule and they will finish the season with at least two losses. I'm picking West Virginia and TCU to topple them, but it could be worse for the team from Norman.


    No. 10 Clemson Tigers

    As a mild Clemson fan I had high expectations for the Tigers this year, but after their shaky victory over an equally shaky Auburn team, I definitely have my doubts.

    Clemson was without Sammy Watkins during that game, but Auburn has looked downright awful this year. The Tigers hung with Clemson til the end and that doesn't bode well for either team.


    No. 11 Notre Dame

    There's a great amount of undue hype about the Fighting Irish after they nearly shutout the Kirk Cousins-less Michigan State Spartans 20-3, but their narrow 20-17 victory over the mighty Purdue Boilermakers is far from convincing.

    The Irish still have No. 18 Michigan, No. 9 Stanford, No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 13 USC on their schedule. Ouch.


    No. 12 Texas Longhorns

    I'm throwing the Longhorns in because I've been hearing a bit of hype about them and just wanted to try to put an end to it.

    The Horns are 3-0 after blowing out some weak competition, but they gave up a whopping 31 points to Ole Miss. Ole Miss...really?

    Mack Brown's legacy is slowly dying and Nick Saban may just be the guilty party that showed him the door. He did it to Urban Meyer as well and Les Miles is next.


    Any SEC Team That Isn't LSU

    No team in the SEC West has a chance for a rematch in the title game other than LSU, and a team from the East that loses the 'Bama in the SEC championship just won't get a back-to-back do-over.

    That and when the Tide rolls into Atlanta, they are going to flat out embarrass someone.