Which Team Beats Alabama: LSU, SEC East Champ or BCS Title Opponent?

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterOctober 26, 2012

SEC West championships in 2008 and 2009, an SEC title in '09 and BCS national championships in '09 and 2011 have Alabama on the brink of a dynasty, despite playing in the toughest division in college football.

Massive turnover from last season's national championship squad hasn't made an impact on the Tide this season, as they currently rank first in the country in total defense (195.6 YPG), rushing defense (58.71 YPG) and passing efficiency (183.82), and rank second in the SEC in rushing offense (219.43 YPG).

Stout defense, a strong running game and an efficient passing attack? That's a recipe for success.

But the Crimson Tide has feasted this season on weak competition, building that 7-0 record on a relatively weak schedule that currently ranks 61st in the country based on past opposition winning percentage.

Translation: Alabama has some work to do if it wants to repeat as national champs.

So which team remaining on Alabama's schedule has the best shot at springing the upset?

If Florida wins the SEC East and makes it to the Georgia Dome, it's the Gators.

The Gators aren't as accomplished as Alabama, but athletically, if there's any team that can match up with the Tide, it's Will Muschamp's crew.

Despite going through a coaching change, the Gators have finished in the top 12 of the Rivals.com final recruiting rankings in each of the last four years. Players from the Class of 2010, which finished second behind USC in Rivals.com's rankings, are the foundation of the stout Florida defense.

All 11 starters on Florida's most up-to-date depth chart were rated four stars or higher by Rivals.com coming out of high school.

Safety Matt Elam and defensive linemen Dominique Easley and Shariff Floyd headline a star-studded defense that is fast, physical and—most importantly—selfless. 

Most teams can't go toe-to-toe with the Crimson Tide and win outright, and need to have Alabama beat themselves to have a chance.

Florida isn't one of those teams. 

They have the talent on defense and can force the Crimson Tide to commit uncharacteristic mistakes.

I know, I know...LSU has similar talent on defense and is similarly challenged on offense.

But there's a big difference between LSU and Florida's offense—Florida is one-dimensional by choice, not due to lack of another option.

Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger has been a major disappointment this season due in large part to his poor decision making and inability to stretch the field. To head coach Les Miles' credit, the Tigers have remained in the title hunt with a stout rushing attack and a solid defense.

But Florida has done the same without having to ask quarterback Jeff Driskel to do much. But just because he hasn't lit it up through the air doesn't mean he can't. It just means that Florida hasn't needed him to yet.

Is Alabama beatable? Absolutely.

Assuming they get by Mississippi State this weekend, there are still some major hurdles to clear before hoisting the crystal football. One of those hurdles could be the Florida Gators in the Georgia Dome. If that game does come to fruition, it will be the biggest test this year for the Tide.



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