My college team, Alabama, continues to “roll” along. No one would have guessed that they would be 11-0 at this point in the season. (Looking back one can see that the schedule they played was not nearly as tough as the pre-season projections thought! Most of their opponents have losing records.) But 11-0 still results in an undefeated number one ranked team. If Texas Tech beats Oklahoma at Norman this Saturday expect Texas Tech to jump up to number one next week. It will not matter, so far as Alabama is concerned, since they can still claim the title by winning all their remaining three games.
First, Alabama must play the biggest rivalry game in all of football: The Iron Bowl. This game, against rival Auburn, is always significant for the two schools but few have been more significant to the Crimson Tide than this year's November 29 meeting at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Not only does Alabama (11-0, 7-0 SEC) need to down Auburn (5-6, 2-5) to sustain aspirations for a national title but by beating Auburn this year Alabama can also make some history.
Two factors are huge. Alabama has never beaten Auburn in six tries in Tuscaloosa. (Until twelve years ago the games were played in Birmingham.)
The Tigers' current streak over the Tide, of six wins (2002-2007), is their longest in the history of the series, perhaps the most intense series in all of college football. If truth be known, many Alabama fans would rather beat Auburn this year than end up No. 1. It just happens that they have to beat Auburn to finish No. 1.
If Alabama beats Auburn, and that is no given in this series, then it has to beat the team that many believe to be the best team in America right now: Florida. Personally, I would pick Florida if I were betting money. But you never can tell. Florida has not played a team as big and physical as Alabama and the Tide could give the fast and quick Gators some issues to face themselves. In addition, Nick Saban is a master on defense and could devise a plan that might surprise Florida.
After beating Mississippi State 32-7 on Saturday evening Coach Saban spoke about the timing of the season's second bye week. Alabama gets to rest this weekend and needs it.
"I look at our team physically, emotionally and mentally and think that this is a good time for us to get a little rest," Saban said. "Even though we don't have a lot of guys missing games, we've got a lot of guys beat up. … They've played with a lot of intensity, a lot of toughness, a lot of intangibles and probably challenged themselves a little bit more maybe than most teams that I've coached.
"I really do appreciate that, and I'm proud of the way they compete. They've overcome a lot and improved a lot. But at the same time, I think that it's a good time for us to be getting a little emotional break as well."
For the Tide it has to be one game at a time now. Beat Auburn and 12-0 is a regular season record to be proud of since no one in their right mind saw this coming in August. Beat Florida and I think they can beat anyone. If all goes as the insiders predict the winner of the Florida and Alabama SEC title game plays on January 8 for the top spot. This is where every fan’s passion grows and the interest really builds. Since my brother and I will share Thanksgiving together we will get to watch the November 29 Auburn game together. It should be fun if the Tide takes care of business.