Season so far: vs. Virginia Tech, W 35-10; at Texas A&M, W 49-42; Colorado State, W 31-6; Ole Miss, W 25-0; Georgia State, W 45-3; at Kentucky, W 48-7
Still to go: Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU, at Mississippi State, Chattanooga, at Auburn
It's important to note that Alabama has had just one undefeated season under Nick Saban. Not to try to downplay what Saban has accomplished since reaching Tuscaloosa, because winning three out of four national championships is stunning no matter how you do it. But because if you misremember the history of how Alabama has won its titles, you could be forgiven for thinking that Crimson Tide football is a little bit boring.
Not for Alabama fans, of course; there's no fan base in the country that would opt to lose a game every so often to make things interesting instead of continuing to pile up the wins. But for the rest of us, it can make the season a little bit underwhelming. There goes Alabama, once again squeezing the life out of opponents, once again going to Atlanta.
There's certainly nothing that requires Alabama to apologize or regret any of this in the least. After all, the object of every team is to win the games it plays as often as possible. That's what fans pay for, and what Alabama has done extraordinarily well in recent years.
In fact, the Tide has gone to three of the last five SEC Championship Games -- and Alabama won the national title in one of the years that it didn't play in the Georgia Dome. That's not an unprecedented streak, and it happens more often than you might think, but the way in which Alabama has done it and the fact that the Tide is also bringing home crystal footballs adds to the sense that Alabama is a time that almost never loses.
And here, it seems, we go again. The Texas A&M game was as good as advertised, but the Tide won. The challenge from Ole Miss turned out to be a dud. At times, those of us who write about Alabama have started to look for little bits and pieces to make things seem more interesting than they are. "Alabama struggled against Colorado State" -- a team that had a former member of Saban's staff as its head coach and was facing the Tide after the draining win against Texas A&M. "Alabama did not spend the first quarter littering the field with the bones of dead Kentucky players" -- though the Tide would end up outgaining the Wildcats by 498. Outgaining them by that much.
Most of the remainder of Alabama's game seem to promise more of the same. No one expects Arkansas to give Alabama a game this weekend, or Tennessee the next. Nor will the trip to Starkville or a home game against Chattanooga do much to disrupt the Tide's season.
Which leaves us with LSU and Auburn. Those also happen to be the only two SEC programs other than Alabama to represent the West in Atlanta since Arkansas did it in 2006. Those teams are also responsible for three of the five defeats that Alabama has endured since beginning their dynasty.
Is this Alabama team beatable? Almost certainly. After all, Texas A&M came close to defeating the Tide for a second straight time this year. And while Alabama is in the Top 10 in rushing defense, total defense and scoring defense, they are 30th in passing efficiency defense. That's not awful, and keep in mind that the Johnny Manziel performance is in there, but it's enough to leave a little bit of room for the right team to beat Alabama. Perhaps a team with a quarterback who has outperformed expectations in Baton Rouge.
Does that mean it will happen? No. And the smart money would probably put Alabama back in the SEC Championship Game yet again. But they're not there yet, and there's still room for a little bit of excitement along the way.