Now that No. 1 Alabama (9-0) has survived LSU in Death Valley, the Tide will be virtually untested until their final game of the regular season, when they host No. 9 Auburn (7-2) on Nov. 26.
Do the Tigers, who have won six straight games, have any chance of beating Bama in Tuscaloosa?
“They’ve been playing awfully well lately,” AP college football writer Ralph Russo said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I think that offense gives them a chance because it’s not just turn around and hand the ball to the tailback. Gus Malzahn, with his running game, gets a lot of stuff involved as far as misdirection and playing with defenders’ eyes to make them think it’s one thing when it’s actually not. I think you need that, and (you have to) get the quarterback involved in the run game. They don’t have that quite as much as they had a couple years ago when they had Nick Marshall run it, but I think that’s the way you approach Alabama. I think if you do it the way LSU did it – which is, again, turn around and hand the ball to the tailback – that’s probably not a way to go against Alabama.”
Of course, it would be interesting to see what happens if Alabama loses to Auburn and is left out of the SEC Championship, especially if Clemson, Michigan and Washington go undefeated and win their respective conferences. Would a one-loss Alabama team be left out of the playoff?
“That’s the question,” Russo said. “Of all the teams that can finish with one loss, you can make a case for Michigan, but Michigan’s strength of schedule has been pretty weak. I don’t doubt Michigan being very good. They’ve taken care of their business. But of all the teams that could conceivably finish with one loss that you think could get in without winning their conference, Alabama has got to be that team. But if it’s Alabama against a bunch of undefeated teams, then it becomes trickier. To a certain degree, you have to reward winning here. The Patriots were the best team in the NFL a couple years ago, but they didn’t win the Super Bowl. I think to a certain degree it’ll be a real test for the committee to determine what to do with Alabama if that scenario plays out. Could you put Alabama in over an Auburn team that it lost to? I don’t think so. The committee protocol says head-to-head and conference championships, take that into account. So that, to me, is the most fascinating conceivable scenario if Alabama is sitting there at 11-1 and everybody else is either undefeated or you have Auburn win the SEC championship, does Alabama get left out of this thing?”