Another season of college football results in another Nick Saban-led team raising the crystal ball after a dominating performance in the national championship. It's becoming a bit of a pattern, and unless you consider yourself a part of "Roll Tide Nation," you're beginning to look frantically around for some sort of contender capable of ending this impressive dynasty.
There are a few programs that you could expect to challenge Alabama, but who has the best chance of changing the current pace of college football?
SEC teams like LSU, Georgia and Texas A&M could be a solid roadblock for the Crimson Tide, but Alabama has owned that conference in recent years and match up well against these teams.
Chip Kelly is officially returning to Oregon, and considering he has posted a 46-7 record while leading the Ducks and almost defeated Auburn in the 2010 national championship, the future seems bright. However, his defenses are traditionally a bit undersized compared to Saban's offenses and would have trouble with Bama's power running game.
Another possible contender has to be Ohio State, who finished 12-0 this season and is led by a head coach in Urban Meyer that has given Saban plenty of trouble in the past. The Buckeyes run a spread-option attack that can give Saban's defenses headaches when run effectively.
Meyer has been building a defense that can compete with big powerful offensive lines, and the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that OSU has the best chance of ending the Crimson Tide's dominance over college football.
It's no secret that Alabama's defenses have struggled against spread-option attacks under Nick Saban. For example, the Tide always struggled against Florida during Meyer's tenure there and even gave up a ton of offensive production to Texas A&M this season, who runs a similar offensive style.
Therefore, you would assume that the Buckeyes offense would match up well against Alabama, especially as Meyer settles in at OSU and begins to bring in the right pieces for his potent offensive scheme.
The former Florida coach already reeled in a top-five class in 2012 and is currently finalizing a 2013 recruiting class that currently ranks as the third-best in the nation according to Rivals. Entailed in this class are effective pieces for Meyer's offense like speedy, playmaking receivers like Jalin Marshall, Taivon Jacobs and Darron Lee, who could match up with the usual speed of an Alabama defense. Meyer has also landed specialty pieces for his offense like an athletic tight end in Marcus Baugh and a speedy receiving back in Ezekiel Elliot.
This type of personnel has traditionally given Saban trouble and with returning starters like Devin Smith, Carlos Hyde and especially Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes have the tools to compete with Alabama via the spread option.
Now you may be thinking of other potent spread-option approaches like Chip Kelly's or Sumlin's offense at A&M, but what separates these teams from the Buckeyes is the SEC-like defense Meyer is building in Columbus.
Meyer knows all too well how vital a talented and deep defensive line is in order to combat the big and physical offensive lines that have led the Crimson Tide to numerous national championships.
In his first two classes, Meyer has landed a whopping 10 defensive line recruits all ranked as 4-stars or above by Rivals. Pair this with the strong linebacking corps Meyer has amassed together and a plethora of secondary recruits, and the Buckeyes seem to be forming an elite defense comparable to Meyer's defenses at Florida.
Without a strong defensive line with an ample amount of depth, it's nearly impossible to compete with Alabama as we witnessed Monday night, when the Crimson Tide gashed the Fighting Irish over and over again on the ground.
Urban Meyer has gone toe-toe with Nick Saban before and as he continues to build the Ohio State program around his schemes and approaches, his Buckeyes will have a great chance to bring the Crimson Tide's reign of dominance to a halt.
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