Alabama’s resounding victory over Florida on Saturday in the SEC Championship Game did several things: It extended Alabama’s win streak to 25 games, its SEC championship strength to 3 years and ended any speculation of what the College Football Playoff committee might do in the event the Crimson Tide lost this game.
There is a lot of familiarity between these two teams, thanks mostly to Florida hiring former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain as head coach, who subsequently attracted former Bama staffers Doug Nussmeier, Geoff Collins and Chris Rumph. The end result is that Alabama will have a hard time surprising Florida, and with the Gators’ defense a tough customer, expect this one to be close at least until the final quarter. Alabama will need to force Florida to make mistakes in order to avoid a low-scoring stalemate.
Disclaimer: This is not an official University of Alabama document. The depth chart is taken from...
Alabama made a barely competitive game close for a half thanks to its own mistakes, which included two interceptions and a rare horrid punt from J.K. Scott that put Auburn in business just outside the red zone. The halftime score of 13-9 served as an effective wake-up call for an Alabama team that mishandled the ball on six other first-half plays – in addition to the two interceptions – and Alabama didn’t wait long to put its foot down on the gas pedal in the second half.
Depending on how deep one’s crimson blood runs, news Monday that initial Las Vegas lines were coalescing around an 18-point spread in Alabama’s favor could either be considered easy money, or a sucker’s bet. Analysis of the two teams suggests the latter, especially if Alabama’s earlier game against LSU this season is any indication. Alabama and Auburn will meet at Bryant-Denny Stadium – where Alabama has been effective lately, but not historically, against Auburn – but the key issue is not the venue, but the strength of an Auburn defensive line that is a clear step above the LSU line that gave Alabama fits earlier this month.
Seniors are in black, juniors previously on the team are in green, junior college transfers in their junior year are in purple, junior college transfers in their sophomore year are in yellow, sophomores previously on the team are in blue, redshirt freshmen are in cyan, and true freshmen are in red.
Rivalry week is here, and for the first time perhaps since the inception of the SEC’s dual-division setup, there may not be a game on the list with any real consequences. Alabama goes to Atlanta no matter what it does against Auburn, and would still go to the College Football Playoff by winning the SEC Championship Game as a one-loss team. Really the only drama this week surrounds the teams needing a sixth win to get bowl-eligible.
Alabama didn’t bring its A-game against Chattanooga Saturday – or its B-game, or its C-game. What Alabama brought was good enough to win, but not good enough to keep Nick Saban from peeling the paint off the locker room walls at halftime.
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Chattanooga is 8-2 and a respected offensive and defensive force in Division-IAA’s Southern Conference, and serve as a decent analog for Week 13 opponent Auburn. This is a talented offensive team with good balance, good coaching and the desire to make a name for itself. But Alabama is the top-ranked team in the country for a reason. The talent differential between these two teams is mighty. Here’s a preview of what to expect when Chattanooga comes to town Saturday night to face the Crimson Tide.