Why It Looks Like Alabama Is a Slam Dunk to Repeat as BCS National Champion
Alabama is off to an 8-0 start to the 2012 season, something the Tide could not accomplish last time they were defending national champions.
While Alabama just started the grueling portion of its schedule against Tennessee in Week 8, the Tide have stood their ground against the passing attack of Tennessee and the lockdown defense of Mississippi State.
There is a long way to go between now and the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, but most would agree that Alabama looks good to at least get to Miami.
If Alabama makes it to Miami, there are plenty of reasons to believe that the Tide will roll through that challenge as well. Here are five reasons that 'Bama is heading for the first repeat national title of the BCS era.
*Stats and rankings are from cfbstats.com
Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron now has a 262-attempt passing streak without an interception. That streak dates back to the 2011 Mississippi State game. McCarron has gone 122-of-177 for 1,684 yards, 18 touchdowns and zero interceptions in 2012 as of the beginning of Week 10.
With a 68.9 completion percentage and an average of 9.51 yards per attempt, McCarron has clearly established himself as more than simply a game-managing quarterback. He's lethal under center, and even Mississippi State's NFL-ready secondary tandem of seniors Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay couldn't manage to pick off the Tide's junior quarterback. (Slay did have one in-hand, but could not keep it under control.)
McCarron's quarterback rating is currently highest in the nation at 182.4.
Alabama's conversion percentage in the red zone is a nation-leading 97.14 percent on 35 attempts. The Tide have come away with zero points in only one red-zone appearance all season. Alabama's 74.29 touchdown percentage is 11th nationally as well.
If Alabama gets into the red zone, it scores. It's a methodical clock-eating performance that usually culminates in seven points. It's not necessarily flashy at all times, but a margin of victory that is usually close to three touchdowns doesn't need to be flashy to be effective. Especially if it's backed up defensively.
Alabama's red-zone performance on defense is equally good, and the Tide have the top spot in the nation in that category, too. Alabama has only allowed an opposing offense into its red zone 15 times this season, and the Tide have only given up eight scores for a 53.33 percent allowed conversion rate.
Alabama's defense doesn't like to get scored on, and the numbers reflect that attitude. If the other team can't score, it can't win.
Alabama is great at scoring in the red zone, and it's great at stopping people from scoring from the same range. That's the best recipe for a repeat if there ever were one.
Alabama ranks first in the nation in the following categories:
1) Scoring defense at 8.1 points per game allowed.
2) Rushing defense at 57.25 yards per game allowed. (1.93 yards per attempt allowed.)
3) Total defense at 203.1 yards per game allowed.
Alabama is allowing a paltry 145.9 passing yards per game, which comes in at second nationally. Alabama's defense is among the best in the nation in almost every measurable category.
This is one of the major reasons that Alabama wins the games it wins. The defense simply throttles the other team and keeps them out of the end zone. With no team scoring more than 14 points against the Tide all season, Alabama could still be undefeated if it were averaging 17 points per game instead of the 40.6 average it currently holds.
In the event that Alabama should need to punt, there are many factors working in favor of the Tide in that aspect of the game.
Alabama has not allowed a single punt return of 20 or more yards this season. Alabama's coverage team also keeps improving as each week passes by. Alabama's punt return team is not necessarily among the elite of the nation, but there is a kicker in the system that will change that in the near future by the name of Adam Griffith.
As far as the 2012 season is concerned, the most important bit of information is that the punting unit is not a liability to the Tide's championship hopes. Plus, Alabama has only allowed eight punt returns this season. It's far more likely for the Tide to recover a punt and maintain possession than it is for them to give up a return to the house.
Top Team in the SEC
While the SEC haters out there would have you believe that the conference is overrated, the fact is that the SEC has come away with the crystal football every time is has made it to the big game since the BCS began back in 1998.
Florida State (ACC), Oklahoma (Big 12), Ohio State (Big Ten), Texas (Big 12) and Oregon have all had shots at the crystal football against the mighty SEC. Oklahoma and Ohio State even got two shots at the SEC in the title game. All of those teams failed to outscore the SEC when it counted, so the SEC remains the best conference in the land after having amassed six straight BCS national titles.
In 2012, Alabama is the last team in that monster conference that still holds a perfect record through nine weeks of college football. So, if the best conference in the nation has a clear-cut best team in the nation, it stands to reason that team would be favored in any national championship match that could possibly happen.
There will be plenty of opportunities for other teams to disprove that theory in 2012, but the theory has already stood up to six years of rigorous testing. It's a safe bet that it will hold up for another year, especially with Nick Saban" href="http://bleacherreport.com/nick-saban" target="_blank">Nick Saban at the helm. It's always a plus to have the nation's best coaching staff on your side.