The Alabama Crimson Tide found themselves in a situation that they had only been in once since the 2008 season- they had a defeat before November. In a way, it was a good thing. In both 2011 and 2012, Alabama was defeated at home late in the season. However, with a lot of good fortunes, the Tide was able to reach and win the BCS National Championship Game.
This season, with a 23-17 defeat at the hands of Ole Miss, the Crimson Tide was expected once again play the waiting game. They would need Ole Miss to not just lose one, but two SEC games. This and winning the remainder of their games would assure Alabama a spot in the inaugural college football playoffs.
Now, once again, the Tide control their own destiny. However, the road to No. 15 is far from a settled thing. The Tide will need to play their best football for the remainder of the season. As a result, we will take a look at the Tide’s greatest remaining obstacles and what they will need to do become one of the members of the final four.
LSU in Baton Rouge
Three weeks ago, this seemed like nothing more than a formality. However, the young LSU Tigers have grown up quickly. The offense still has issues but has regained their identity as a power running team. LSU has always used a stable of running backs, and this season is no different. Freshman running back Leonard Fournette has emerged as the leader of this pack and played one of his best games of the season in the Tigers 10-7 upset over Ole Miss. Fournette had 154 yards of offense and seemed to get stronger as the game went forward.
The defense is the x-factor. At times, they have looked middle of the road. However, at home, they have been lights out. In Baton Rouge, the Tigers are only allowing 13 points per game. Add in the fact that this game is at night in Baton Rogue and the threat level goes even higher. We know the Tide have had a great deal of success at LSU, but they will need to bring their best game and play mistake free football.
Mississippi State in Tuscaloosa
It is hard to believe, but Mississippi State is the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. Moreover, this might be the best team their program has ever had. On defense, the front seven has a two-deep rotation that rivals Alabama’s. They are very physical and very talented. Their secondary, however, can be shaky at times and the Tide will need another big game from Amari Cooper.
On offense, everyone talks about Dak Prescott and for good reason. He is a legit Heisman candidate and possibly the current leader. He is Tim Tebow, but with a better arm. However, don’t forget about running back Josh Robinson, who has entered the national awards talk as well.
Robinson has had over 100 yards of offense every game this season and over 170 yards three times. His top statistical games this season was 201 offensive yards against LSU and 209 offensive yards against Kentucky. He is a very physical runner, and Alabama must play fundamental football, or he will have a field day.
Also, don’t forget about Jameon Lewis. He plays the role of Percy Harvin in this Dan Mullen offense. You have to know where he is at all times because he can run, catch and throw the football. In fact, he has completed all four of his career attempts and all four were touchdowns. Lewis is just coming back from an injury but is one of the leagues biggest threats when healthy.
Auburn in Tuscaloosa
Many believed this would be the season that the Auburn Tigers would run out of luck. However, the Tigers are once again on track to another run at a national championship game. This Tigers football team is beginning to look more like last season’s team every week.
In the final three games last season for the Tigers, they comprised one of the top resumes for running the football in recent memory. They were dominant on the ground despite facing the nations top three defensive lines in consecutive games.
Cameron Artis-Payne has picked up where Tre Mason left off and is getting better each week. Dual threat quarterback Nick Marshall is improving each week as well. The Auburn offense is finding a groove and should be a well-oiled machine by the time they roll into Tuscaloosa.
The defense appeared to be better early in the season, but have looked less impressive with each passing week. This game has potential to be a shootout because this offense is legit.
Georgia Bulldogs in Atlanta GA
It is quite possible that Georgia will not be in Atlanta. If not, this game would be a cakewalk for the Crimson Tide. If UGA rebounds from their loss this week against Florida, they are a dangerous team. With Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb, they will find success running the football against any team in college football.
Their defensive line is decent, and they might have the top linebacker unit in the SEC. However, their secondary is very shaky and Cooper and company could have a career game against them.
The Tide would be favored in this game, but it would be better for them to face Missouri. The Crimson Tide don’t need the wear and tear of tackling a fresh Gurley and dangerous Chubb.
Dr. SEC has a weekly radio program, The Waiting Room with Dr. SEC, that broadcast on 14 stations across five states and also has a daily radio program that airs on Bama Sports Radio. His daily writings are syndicated to newspapers and magazines. Visit his website at www.drsec.org and follow him on twitter at twitter.com/thedrsec