Alabama Football: Late-Season Matchups That Could Trip Up Crimson Tide

William SmithCorrespondent IOctober 8, 2012

Nick Saban's team has looked great to start the season, but tough games remain on the schedule.
Nick Saban's team has looked great to start the season, but tough games remain on the schedule.Michael Chang/Getty Images

The Alabama Crimson Tide football team remains unbeaten at 5-0 coming off a bye week. The nation's top team in both the AP and USA Today Polls has looked very impressive in those first five contests, overwhelming their opponents by a combined score of 201-35.

The Tide's two best opponents to date have been Michigan and Arkansas.  Alabama's defense overwhelmed Denard Robinson and Michigan, as the Crimson Tide won 41-14 on the first of September. Two weeks later, the Tide throttled Arkansas 52-0 in Fayetteville, a team many felt had national championship aspirations, but the Razorbacks were without quarterback Tyler Wilson.  

The defense has been outstanding as usual, allowing a meager 191.6 yards of total offense per game. The offense has been no slouch either, rolling up 401 yards of offense per contest behind junior quarterback A.J. McCarron's 999 passing yards and 12 touchdowns and the dual rushing attack of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon, who have each rushed for over 300 yards each in the first five games.

The Tide will continue to wear a target on its back, so teams will be looking to do anything they can do get a victory and hurt Alabama's chances of repeating as BCS National Champions.

Alabama's remaining schedule consists of Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi State, LSU, Texas A&M, Western Carolina and Auburn. 

Alabama will handle five of those seven opponents with ease, but here are the two matchups that could trip them up as the second half of the season goes along.

October 20-Alabama at Tennessee

The Crimson Tide will handle Missouri on October 13 on the road, but they will have to travel to Knoxville into a hostile environment with a die-hard fanbase waiting to greet them with a lot of noise.

Tennessee has been substandard in recent years, but head coach Derek Dooley has assembled a solid roster this year that has gone 3-2 to start the season.  

Tennessee flopped in the second half of a big prime-time home game against Florida on Sept. 15, but Dooley and his coaching staff will have his team ready to give it a shot at knocking off the Crimson Tide.

The Vols can score points, as evidenced by their 197 points in the first five games. Junior quarterback Tyler Bray has been excellent, throwing for 1,582 yards and 14 touchdowns.  

The Vols amass 506.6 yards of total offense, good for No. 17 in the nation.

If Tennessee can put up points on the Crimson Tide early, it could turn into a shootout-type game the Crimson Tide aren't used to playing in.

Tennessee's defense has not been particularly strong in the first half of the season, but perhaps they will rise to the occasion and play well enough to slow down the Crimson Tide attack.   

The Vols also sport four players who have over 200 yards receiving, led by junior Justin Hunter (33 catches, 456 yards, four TD).

The Crimson Tide must not mistake this Tennessee team for the Tennessee team that went 5-7 last year.

November 3-Alabama at LSU

This game may get less hype because LSU fell 14-6 at Florida, but it will still be Alabama's toughest test on the remaining schedule. The Tigers' offense also sputtered in a 12-10 win over Auburn on September 22.

The running game of the Tigers has been strong, averaging 198.3 yards per game, but junior quarterback Zach Mettenberger has thrown for 1174 yards and just six touchdown passes in six games.

Stats aside, this game will be tight as the Tigers try to avenge their 21-0 loss to the Crimson Tide in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game

The fans in Baton Rouge will be loud and intent on seeing their Tigers pull off the upset of a superior Alabama team.