Head-to-head: 1 advantage Alabama has over every team in the top 10
It’s befuddling, what I’ve heard this week concerning Alabama football. Apparently, the naysayers come out in droves when the Crimson Tide don’t play a perfect game (but still earn a quality victory. Yes, a victory.)
Alabama beat Florida, which could end the season as a top-10 ranked team, in Gainesville. That would be a solid win for the Jacksonville Jaguars, much less any college team. I warned fans that Florida was dangerous. And they were, but Bama still won 31-29. Florida continues to improve under coach Dan Mullen. Their time will come, but it didn’t happen on Saturday.
Therefore, Alabama is still the top-ranked team in college football. That’s nothing new. Alabama will get one more easy win before its SEC schedule goes into full force. Alabama will still be favored in every game it plays this season because its football team is just so darned good. Bama is also still the most elite team among the country’s elite. Don’t believe me? Well, read on.
Here’s 1 advantage the Tide have over every other team in the top 10 of The Associated Press Poll:
No. 2 Georgia
Alabama’s advantage: Until further notice, Nick Saban has a mental advantage over every coach who has worked for him because none has been able to beat him. Georgia coach Kirby Smart falls into that category. There’s also the fact that Alabama only gives up 18.7 points per game. Georgia’s key win this season came against Clemson in a game in which the Bulldogs only scored 10 points. Georgia is getting better on offense, but Bama still has the edge with their stout defense.
No. 3 Oregon
Alabama’s advantage: Here is another situation where Oregon’s head coach, Mario Cristobal, coached under Saban, but that point has been made. If both teams met in the College Football Playoff, Alabama’s linemen on both sides of the ball would win that matchup. That advantage might not show up immediately, but Bama’s depth would prevail.
No. 4 Oklahoma
Alabama’s advantage: We’ve seen this before: Alabama can match any high-flying offense in the country and can often disrupt such offenses when given extra time to prepare, which would be the case if these teams met in the Playoff. There’s a clear coaching advantage in this potential matchup for Alabama. Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley is playing checkers. Saban is playing chess.
No. 5 Iowa
Alabama’s advantage: With all due respect to Iowa and another fantastic start, there’s just no comparing the team speed that Bama and the Hawkeyes put on the field. Iowa’s talent ranking in No. 42 in the country, according to 247sports.com’s composite. The Hawkeyes don’t have a single 5-star player on their roster and only 10 4-stars. Alabama, which ranks No. 1 in composite talent, has 14 5-stars and 61 4-stars. This would be a very lopsided affair if the teams ever met this season.
No. 6 Penn State
Alabama’s advantage: The Nittany Lions jumped 4 spots in the AP Poll after they won at home against Auburn. Does that mean they’re SEC ilk? Absolutely not. Auburn nearly beat Penn State in Happy Valley. That’s much easier than beating Alabama anywhere. Penn State’s talent ranking, by the way, is No. 16 — behind 6 SEC teams.
No. 7 Texas A&M
Alabama’s advantage: Here’s that former coach thing again since Jimbo Fisher coached under Saban at LSU. However, the bigger reason that Alabama is better than the Aggies is that the Crimson Tide are more settled on the offensive and defensive line. Texas A&M continues to shuffle its offensive line while Bama’s starting lineup is rock solid. Fisher had better get things figured out soon. Plus there’s still the QB discrepancy, a deficit A&M hasn’t been able to overcome.
No. 8 Cincinnati
Alabama’s advantage: If you need me to tell you how Alabama is a better team than Cincinnati, then there’s some ocean-front property in South Dakota that I’d like to sell you. The talent gap is way, way too wide for the Bearcats to even scare Alabama. Cincy ranks No. 53 in overall talent — below Illinois and just 6 spots ahead of Vanderbilt.
No. 9 Clemson
Alabama’s advantage: The Crimson Tide have a huge advantage over Clemson in one key position: quarterback. Alabama seems to have a blooming star in first-year starter Bryce Young. Clemson seems to have a quarterback still trying to find his way in DJ Uiagalelei. That 10-3 loss to Georgia in which Uiagalelei seemed so uncertain is hard to forget. It’s not all of him, however. These Tigers haven’t been able to replace Travis Etienne, either. Will Shipley has rushed for 175 yards in 3 games. Clemson ranks 11th in the ACC in rushing at 134 yards per game — the lowest total under Dabo Swinney.
No. 10 Ohio State
Alabama’s advantage: Young would also be a huge advantage for Bama against Ohio State. Why? The Buckeyes can’t rush the passer. That means that Young would have plenty of time to exploit Ohio State’s pass coverage, which is at least partially buoyed by young linebackers. Young would have a field day. So, too, would Brian Robinson. Ohio State ranks 13th in the B1G in rushing defense, allowing more than 180 yards per game.