Alabama Football: Tide's Road to Another BCS Title Getting Easier Every Week
It's not like it's Alabama's fault. The schedule looked pretty intimidating in the middle of August. But that was then, and this is now.
Kicking off a new season with a replenished defense against a Top 10 team at a neutral site could have been too much for the Tide to handle. That was before Michigan star running back Fitzgerald Toussaint was suspended, leaving Denard Robinson to carry the offensive load with little help, if any.
The Wolverines were no match for Alabama, as they were left with a one-dimensional offense that was supported by an already undersized offensive line. Alabama cruised to a 41-14 victory.
In Week 2, while the Tide had their way with Western Kentucky, Arkansas saw the beginning of the end of its now-miserable season in a stunning loss to Louisiana-Monroe. To make matters worse for the Hogs, quarterback Tyler Wilson suffered a concussion that would leave him unavailable for the upcoming battle with 'Bama in Fayetteville.
Without Wilson, the Razorbacks had nothing to offer in the passing game, and Alabama shut off the ground attack en route to an embarrassing 52-0 win. Just two weeks prior, the Top-Five ranked Hogs promised to be a major threat to the Tide.
In recent weeks, Alabama performed as expected, cruising past Florida Atlantic and Ole Miss before last Saturday's one and only bye week.
As the Tide took advantage of fall break, divisional rival and scheduling roadblock, LSU got punched in the throat by the resurgent Florida Gators, and SEC East favorite Georgia was throttled as usual by Steve Spurrier and his mighty Gamecocks.
While Alabama will not have to deal with LSU until next month, it is becoming more and more evident that Zack Mettenberger is not the missing link for the Bengal Tigers as they are playing at a level far below the bar that they set for themselves in 2011. LSU has turned the ball over 11 times already (in just six games) and is at the bottom of the SEC in both penalties and yards penalized.
The once highly-intimidating night game in the Bayou that lies not so far ahead has lost much of its luster, and with the Alabama defense playing as well as it has, Saban Bowl VI may come and go without much of a fight.
As for Georgia, just two weeks ago I practically handed them a one-way ticket to the conference championship game in Atlanta, predicting that they would give the Tide its toughest game this season.
Losing at South Carolina is not the worst thing that can happen to a team, but to fall the way that the Dawgs did surprised pretty much everyone. Now, their chances of coming out of the SEC East have been severely damaged, if not severed, and they have fallen off the Alabama radar for the time being.
Next up for the Tide is Missouri. Despite having what was considered to be a potent offense entering the season, Mizzou is learning the hard way that "old man football" can be pretty effective. Now the Tigers have lost their quarterback and most potent offensive threat in James Franklin for the 'Bama game.
Once again, Alabama will face an opponent that is hamstrung by the loss of its most dangerous threat.
Hours after the Tide finishes what will likely be a thorough dismantling of Missouri, their next opponent, Tennessee, will face Mississippi State in Starkville. If Tyler Bray gets hurt in that one, well, this whole "best man goes down" thing will get just plain eerie.
Yes, Alabama has played some amazing football this season, surpassing the expectations of most reasonable fans and performing at a BCS title level once again. Having said that, we are already halfway through the season, and the Tide has yet to have their mettle tested by a quality, multi-dimensional offense that is not hindered by the loss of a major player.
While blowout wins are easy on the blood pressure and make for relaxing fall Saturdays, it would be nice to see how Alabama handles a little adversity. Until it is forced into such a situation, any prognostications of an undefeated run through the SEC slate are premature at the very least.
Again, it is no fault of Alabama's, but things seem to be falling into place just a little too easily for the Tide right now. The pessimist in me can't help but wonder when football karma will return the favor and slap the Tide into reality again.
If it doesn't, the winner of the South Carolina-Florida matchup could be the only roadblock facing the Tide on their way to a third BCS title in four years.
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