Top-ranked Alabama took another huge step toward earning an opportunity to compete for its third consecutive BCS title after thrashing LSU 38-17 last weekend.
While potential hurdles such as the season finale at Auburn and the SEC title game remain, Nick Saban’s club figures to be a healthy favorite in both of those games.
Assuming the Tide handles their business and wins out, the question becomes, which team would the Tide prefer to play in Pasadena Jan. 6?
Considering the number of “We want ‘Bama” signs and chants being seen and heard at stadiums across the country, it’s a question worth pondering.
First, it was Oregon that most media types propped up as the team that could end Alabama’s crystal-ball streak. Fans and media scribes have been clamoring for a Tide-Ducks matchup, but the Ducks tumbled off their perch after falling to Stanford last week.
Florida State now occupies the No. 2 spot, and Jimbo Fisher’s club will be a sizable favorite in all four of its remaining games.
The storylines for a clash between Alabama and FSU would be endless.
FSU’s coaching staff, including Fisher, is littered with coaches who have experience working under Saban. As Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated writes, Fisher’s program has been built using Saban’s process and organizational model.
Seminoles quarterback and Heisman front-runner Jameis Winston hails from Hueytown, Ala., and he was the subject of an intense tug-of-war between Saban and Fisher during his recruiting process.
Speaking of recruiting, these two powers have butted heads for a number of prospects over the last few seasons. Alabama is in line to land its fourth consecutive top-ranked class, while Fisher and the ‘Noles have finished no lower than 10th in the 247Sports class rankings since 2010.
If the ‘Noles falter, an old, but familiar face could be awaiting Saban and the Tide.
Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes, winners of 21 straight games dating back to last season, have perhaps the easiest path to an unblemished record.
Road trips to Illinois and Michigan with a home date against Indiana sandwiched in between is all that stands between the Buckeyes and a second consecutive unbeaten regular season. The Big Ten title game could net a matchup against either Michigan State or Nebraska, but the Buckeyes need a little bit of help to crack the Top 2 at season’s end.
Other teams such as Baylor and Stanford are climbing up slowly in hopes of getting a chance at college football’s modern dynasty. Another one-loss team such as Oregon or Clemson could sneak into the game, in similar fashion to the Tide teams of the last two seasons.
However, for Alabama, its opponents—the ones on the schedule and the potential matchups in the postseason—may as well be faceless and nameless.
Regardless of the opposition, venue or circumstances surrounding the matchup, Saban and his team will line up and give the same effort, focus and attention to detail for 60 minutes that has fueled the Tide to win 70 of their last 77 games.
So while a handful of worthy challengers battle for the right to play for a crystal football, Alabama doesn’t have any preferences for a postseason opponent.
From the view of supporters wearing Crimson, the only thing that remains certain is that the road to claiming the 2013 BCS national title will have to travel through the two-time defending national champions.