No. 1 Alabama (8-0) is the best team in the SEC. This we know.
The second-best team, we thought, was Texas A&M.
Well, if the Aggies are the second-best team in the SEC, the gap between one and two is seismic. The Tide handled previously unbeaten Texas A&M with ease, 33-14, in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, rushing 57 times for 287 yards (5.0 yards per carry) and a touchdown.
If A&M is no longer the second-best team in the SEC, who is?
“I’d say Auburn looks the part right now,” CBS College Football Host Adam Zucker said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I know that seems odd. They lost to Clemson. They had two Hail Marys miss at the end of their opener against Clemson at home. We thought Gus Malzahn was on the verge of getting fired when they actually got that extra second wiped away, and it was Les Miles getting fired instead. But the way Auburn’s offense is humming right now – and they already had the defense to do it – Auburn, to me, (has) as good of a shot (of beating) Alabama as anybody.”
Alabama hosts No. 15 Auburn (5-2) in its regular-season finale on Nov. 26. The Tide also face No. 19 LSU (5-2) in Baton Rouge on Nov. 5.
“You might say, ‘Well, they’re going to LSU,’ and that’s true,” Zucker said. “But I think Auburn’s offense might have it put together a little bit more. But Auburn and LSU – for one team that fired its coach and had been top 10 early on, and for another team that seemed to be on the verge of firing its coach – those two teams, to me, can also contend as being the second-best in the SEC, even though Auburn did already drop one to A&M this year.”
Auburn scored 56 points against Arkansas on Saturday. That likely won’t happen against Alabama, which might have the best defense of the Saban Era.
“It’s so scary,” Zucker said of that unit. “We have to see how it all turns out. Let’s see if this front seven does to LSU and Leonard Fournette did last year’s did, when they completely shut them down, sent LSU into a tailspin and took away the Heisman Trophy from LF. I would say that this defense is faster than past ones. You have a secondary – they fly around and they make these plays.
Alabama, however, must overcome the loss of Eddie Jackson, who broke his leg against A&M and is out for the season.
“He had three of their non-offensive touchdowns, so he was a major loss,” Zucker said. “But Jonathan Allen, Tim Williams, Ryan Anderson, Reuben Foster – it’s unfair to even name five guys because then you have to name 11 and then you have to name 22. But they are so deep on that front seven.”
To be fair, Alabama gave up 43 points at Ole Miss, 30 points at Arkansas and 33 points against A&M. The Tide are not invincible.
But they’ve been pretty darn impressive.
“Their points per game allowed is going to be kind of skewed in the kind of football we have on the field these days,” Zucker said. “But I think (their defense is) just as opportunistic and intimidating as any that we’ve seen (under Saban).”