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For Alabama, There Are No Tough Opponents in The SEC

This year, the race for the SEC West is over, and Alabama might not get a true scare the rest of the season.

by Kevin Trahan
Oct 24 2016, 2:24pm

Alabama checking in on tight end O.J. Howard after scoring a touchdown. Photo by John David Mercer—USA TODAY Sports

Last week, Alabama began a two-week stretch against the two toughest threats to its dominance in the SEC—at Tennessee and at home against Texas A&M. But in case it wasn't abundantly clear before: "toughest" doesn't necessarily mean "tough." At least not for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama demolished the Volunteers, 49-10, then came back and shut down the previously undefeated Aggies today, 33-14, in a game that wasn't as close as the final score appeared.

Just take this sack by Jonathan Allen as a summary for the past two weeks.

Jonathan Allen looking like Superman for @AlabamaFTBL on this sack.
https://t.co/pQSLZhVbRR
— SEConCBS (@SEConCBS) October 22, 2016

After five years straight of landing the best recruiting classes, Alabama—unsurprisingly—has developed the best players in the country, and boy, are the Crimson Tide using them well.

But it's still unclear whether this is the best Alabama team in Nick Saban's tenure in Tuscaloosa. I would venture to say no, as amazing as that is. But it is very obvious that in an SEC down year, this is by far the most dominant the Crimson Tide have been within their conference.

Most years, the SEC has at least a couple of teams that can beat back the Tide. Last year, Ole Miss was a fluke loss to Arkansas away from winning the SEC West, after beating Alabama earlier that year. Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M, and others have all beaten the Tide or given them a scare since 2011.

But this year, the race for the SEC West is over, and Alabama might not get a true scare the rest of the season.

A win over Ole Miss after a sluggish start was the only time Alabama has won by less than double-digits. Of the teams left on the schedule, even the ones that could pose minimal threats (LSU and Auburn) would need to beat the Crimson Tide, and hope for them to lose again, in order to steal the division.

But just wins and losses don't do this kind of domination justice. Here are all of the categories the Crimson Tide lead the SEC in:

  • Points per game
  • Yards per play
  • Sacks per game
  • Defensive scores
  • Opponent rush yards per attempt
  • Plays of 20+ yards (and 30+ and 40+ and 50+)
  • Lots of other things I don't have space to list here

And if the Crimson Tide don't rank first in the conference, they probably rank second in it. That goes for just about every defensive stat.

It helps that the rest of the SEC has disappointed. Tennessee hasn't lived up to its preseason billing, and LSU, considered a national title dark horse by many, took itself out of contention in the first month of the season.

Once the College Football Playoff arrives, Alabama might meet its match in Ohio State, Michigan, Washington, Clemson, and even Louisville—all have the capacity to match the Tide's ability. But the SEC, once considered the most brutal league in college football, is proving to be a breeze for college football's most infamous juggernaut.

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