Is It a Foregone Conclusion That Alabama Rolls to BCS Title Now?

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Is It a Foregone Conclusion That Alabama Rolls to BCS Title Now?

Despite three wins of exactly 25 points over their first four games of the season, all was not right in Tuscaloosa.

The Crimson Tide had holes. 

The offensive line was inconsistent, the running game suffered and the secondary looked less than stellar.

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Alabama RB T.J. Yeldon

Then October hit, and Alabama was back to doing Alabama things, destroying opponents by an average of 42.5 in four games during the month. In those four games, the Crimson Tide averaged 259 yards per game on the ground, and quarterback AJ McCarron completed 70.7 percent of his passes (70-of-99) for 980 yards with 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Or, to put it more succinctly, Alabama is back to playing "Alabama football."

A funny thing happened over the last two months around Alabama—the rest of the SEC beat itself up.

Georgia and Florida's injury lists read like novels, LSU can't seem to put together a complete game, Texas A&M can't play defense and South Carolina forgot how to block for 60 minutes on Rocky Top.

As a result, teams like Auburn and Missouri emerged as legit contenders in the SEC, which isn't exactly the turn the story of the 2013 season was expected to take.

So is it a foregone conclusion that Alabama will win its third straight title?

No.

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Alabama head coach Nick Saban

While LSU hasn't put things together yet this season, there's not much of a talent discrepancy between the Tide and Tigers. With two weeks to prepare, LSU head coach Les Miles will certainly have something for Alabama when the two SEC West powers meet on Nov. 9 in Tuscaloosa.

Could LSU spring the upset?

Momentum for the programs is going in opposite directions, but we didn't expect Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger to have a breakout game last season versus Alabama, and he did.

I wouldn't put anything past the Mad Hatter.

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Auburn QB Nick Marshall (left) and head coach Gus Malzahn

Auburn presents a unique test for Alabama to close out the regular season, and that game being played in Jordan-Hare Stadium will benefit the Tigers.

In three games against Alabama with Auburn as its offensive coordinator, head coach Gus Malzahn has played the Tide tough. He took a vastly undermanned Tigers team to the brink of an upset in 2009, before Alabama scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:24 to play. The next season, Auburn dug itself out of a 24-0 second-quarter hole to topple the Tide 28-27 in Tuscaloosa en route to the BCS National Championship. The 2011 game was an exception, as the usually uptempo Tigers slowed the pace later in the season to protect their young defense.

If Alabama clears that hurdle, either Missouri or South Carolina should be waiting for the Tide in Atlanta, and either one of those teams will present a challenge.

If it's Missouri, its defense will put pressure on Alabama's offensive line, and its offensive tempo can create issues. If it's South Carolina, quarterback Connor Shaw and running back Mike Davis' ability to get those tough yards will challenge the Tide.

The Program: Which Team Should Alabama Want to Face?

If they get to the title game, and face off against either Oregon or Florida State, it'd be hard not to side with the Crimson Tide.

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Head coach Nick Saban is 18-5 at Alabama with more than a week to prepare for an opponent, and while both the Oregon Ducks and Florida State Seminoles pose tremendous challenges, matching up against Alabama with that kind of track record in big-game circumstances is a lot to ask.

It isn't a foregone conclusion that Alabama will hoist the crystal football in Pasadena on Jan. 6. There's plenty of work to be done for the Tide to get to that point.

But the biggest thing Alabama has going for it this season is that it's work that Saban is familiar with. 

Because of his track record, his team is the odds-on favorite.

 

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