Alabama started out the season as defending BCS National Champions and preseason number 1. As the season progressed, the number got better and better. It looked like Alabama was going to be the first team to be back to back BCS National Champions.
After an impressive win over Florida, Alabama seemed like they would be bale to hand Steve Spurriers' Gamecocks with ease. Unfortunatley, that was not the case. Alabama lost its first regular season game since 2007 in Columbia on October 9, 2010. The final score being 35-21.
Stephen Garcia picked apart Alabama's young secondary by having 4 touchdowns.
Some say that this loss was actually a good thing. It seemed as if Alabama had no motivation. Maybe the loss will actually help Alabama in the weeks to come. Now as time will tell you, history repeats itself.
In 2006 Florida lost to Auburn by a last second field goal. That same Florida team went on to win the BCS National Championship. In 2007 LSU lost to both Kentucky and Arkansas in overtime and went on to win the National Championship. In 2008 Florida lost to Ole Miss and went on to win the National Championship. Alabama was the first team since 2005 to win the National Championship without going undefeated.
So as you can see Alabama can still make it to the National Championship. It is not going to be easy though, considering the amount of talent there is in college football this year, but if Alabama can do five things they can make it to Arizona.
The most obvious step in the ladder leading up to the National Championship is of course Alabama winning the rest of their games. South Carolina was the first of the remaining 6 games to have a bye week before they play the Crimson Tide. Next on the schedule for Alabama is Ole Miss. Ole Miss had a rough beginning of the season. Houston Nutt has put his boys back in order, and Alabama needs to be ready for the Rebels when they come to Tuscaloosa.
After Alabama plays Ole Miss they have Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State (yes I spelled Mississippi State right, I double checked), Georgia State, and Auburn.
Not only does Alabama need to win these remaining games, they need to win them by a large margin to convince voters to possibly jump a few teams. With all the remaining teams having bye weeks before they play the Crimson Tide it is going to be especially hard to win by large margins, but if Nick Saban and the rest of his coaching staff want another ring, they will get it done.
With Auburn and LSU being the only remaining undefeated SEC west teams, they must lose. Auburn has proved to be quite impressive with former Florida quarterback and Tim Tebow backup, Cam Newton. Auburn has called it close several times including three point wins against Mississippi State, Clemson, and Kentucky. LSU has had its share of close calls including Tennessee, North Carolina, and Florida.
Not only does Alabama need to beat these two teams, they also need to lose to other SEC opponets. Auburn faces a tough test against Ryan Mallet and the Arkansas Razorbacks, while LSU faces a smaller, weaker opponet in McNeese State.
In week 8, these two teams will face each other at Auburn. Despite Alabama facing Tennessee that same day, there will probably be a lot of switching on between the two games on any Alabama fan's TV.
If Auburn and LSU are able to lose to other SEC teams then that will open up the door for Alabama to make it to the SEC Championship, and before the Tide looks ahead to Arizona they have to remember that the game in Atlanta will always come first.
After Alabama's heartbreaking loss to South Carolina, Ohio State and Oregon became the number one and number two teams in nation. Now with both teams dominating their schedule, it will be extemely hard for either one of these two teams to get jumped in the polls. Ohio State had close calls with Miami and Illinois and Oregon had a close call with Oregon. This simply should prove that it is not impossible for these teams to get beat. Ohio State has three tough games left this season. Those games being against Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan. Oregon has five teams left on their schedule that have the chance to upset. Those teams being UCLA, USC, Washington, Arizona, and Oregon State. So set your DVR folks because these games are going to important if Alabama wants to be back in title contention.
Now it would also be quite nice if Boise State and TCU could get beat. With Boise State and TCU being in weaker conferences that also means having weaker schedules.TCU has only two tough teams left they have to play and that is Air Force and Utah. The only team Boise State has left that is considered a tough team is Nevada.
Now if Ohio State and Oregon were to get upset, I find it very hard to believe that teams such as Boise State and TCU would play each other in the National Championship. Which comes back to the conclusion that Alabama fans need Ohio State and Oregon to lose more that they need Boise State and TCU to lose.
Leading up to last year's National Championship game, Alabama had one of the best defenses in the country. Now it is a new season and a new season means new players. Alabama lost players such as Javier Arenas, Kareem Jackson, and Justin Woodall in their secondary. These players of course having to be replaced with players like Dre Kirkpatrick, Demarcus Milliner, Dequan Menzie, and Will Lowery.
The Tide defense proved the experts wrong in the first three games of the season by only allowing 19 points. Unfortunately Alabama's secondary had yet to play a very talented quarterback. With San Jose State and Duke being weaker teams and Penn State having a freshman quarterback, there was no prove on how good or bad the Tide secondary was. In their first true test against Ryan Mallet, they were ripped for 357 yards. On the bright side they forced Mallet to throw three interceptions which was his career high.
Before the Florida game, questions surrounded Alabama's passing defense against John Brantley. Alabama answered the questions with three goal line stands and three total interceptions. Life was good and there was no more worry. Then came along Stephen Garcia.
Stephen Garcia was 17 of 20 with three touchdown passes and one interception. Now the pass defense is not the reason Alabama lost, but it is arguably the weakest link this team.
If Alabama wants to win out they HAVE to improve on defense. I think this was a sign to Nick Saban and Kirby Smart that it is time to motivate and improve this defense.
Mark Ingram had 12 attempts for 47 yards against Florida and 11 carries for 41 yards against South Carolina. Trent Richardson had 10 carries for 63 yards against Florida and 6 carries for 23 yards against South Carolina. Now this does not sound like the fast and furious duo Alabama fans know and love.
Now here is another stat. Greg McElroy was 27 of 34 for 315 yards and two touchdowns against South Carolina. That of course being his career high. McElroy was also sacked seven times in the heartbreaking loss. If you do the math, these numbers means Alabama has to establish the running game if they want to score points and save the defense a little trouble.
Jim McElwain is going to have to start giving Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson more carries if Alabama wants to put big numbers on the scoreboard. In preseason magazines, there was talk about Ingram and Richardson being the best duo in college football since James Davis and C.J. Spiller. With an early injury that cost Mark Ingram the first two games in the season and the large amount of passing Greg McElroy has been doing, no one has been able to see the fast and the furious in action.
If Alabama wants to defend their title in Arizona this year, the run game is going to have to improve. I believe Mark Ingram has already faced the reality that he will not be holding the Heisman trophy trophy this year, but he does know he can win another ring to put on his finger.
It is going to be tough to recover the heartbreaking loss to South Carolina. Florida might have been able to lose a game in the regular season and still win the National Championship, but they were not trying to defend a National Championship when they did it. Alabama is going to have to be motivated and step up to win. Now that Alabama is no longer number one, the pressure is off and the heat is on for the race to the BCS National Championship.