Here I am, the guy who said the Alabama dynasty is over, projecting the Tide to win their division and their conference and then play for the national title. What gives?
As I suggested in that post, there's a difference between a national title contender, even a perennial national title contender, and a dynasty. This is probably the most uncertain I've ever been about projecting Alabama to win the conference in a year in which I've done so. A lot of that is the unsettled quarterback situation and the losses on defense, but a lot of that is less tangible. I know, I know -- intangibles aren't supposed to be how we assess sports now. Call me old-fashioned.
But lacking 100 percent confidence in Alabama and picking someone else to beat them are two completely different things. I do think the luck angle with Auburn has been a bit overblown; remember that without the Kick-Six, Auburn still would have had the opportunity to win the Iron Bowl in overtime. Yes, the Georgia victory came on a terribly improbable play that more clearly meant the difference between winning and losing -- but that's one game. And, yes, it's hard to continue to win close games at the rate Auburn has -- but maybe, just maybe there's something to the idea that there are a few coaches who know how to beat the odds.
All that said, I just don't feel comfortable pulling the trigger on Auburn. That game at Kansas State looms in the foreground, and even if the Tigers make it out of Manhattan alive, they have to play both of the SEC East front-runners and go to Tuscaloosa for the Iron Bowl. And they have to navigate it all without Tre Mason. Winning 10 games against that schedule might be enough to warrant going to the playoffs, all things being equal, though I doubt very seriously that a 10-2 Auburn team makes it in the final four.
Everyone else just doesn't quite make the cut. LSU is close, but not close enough. The two Mississippi schools could each ruin someone's season, but I have a hard time seeing either of them put together a 2-1 record against Alabama, LSU and Auburn, and it would likely take that for them to win. Texas A&M will take a step or two back. Arkansas? Surely you jest. No, it's Alabama or Auburn, and for now, Alabama looks like the best bet -- just not as good a bet as they once were.
|ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
|Place: 1st in the SEC West
Record: 11-1, 7-1 SEC
Could be: 8-4 to 12-0
Best chance to be upset: at TENNESSEE
Bowl: College Football Playoff
|Place: 2nd in the SEC West
Record: 10-2, 6-2 SEC
Could be: 7-5 to 12-0
Best chance to be upset: at KANSAS STATE
Bowl: Contract Bowl
|WEEK 1||8.30.14 | vs. WEST VIRGINIA (Atlanta) | WIN||8.30.14 | ARKANSAS | WIN|
|WEEK 2||9.6.14 | FLORIDA ATLANTIC | WIN||9.6.14 | SAN JOSE STATE | WIN
|WEEK 3||9.13.14 | SOUTHERN MISS | WIN||BYE|
|WEEK 4||9.20.14 | FLORIDA | WIN||9.18.14 | at KANSAS STATE | WIN|
|WEEK 5||BYE||9.27.14 | LOUISIANA TECH | WIN|
|WEEK 6||10.4.14 | at OLE MISS | WIN||10.4.14 | LSU | WIN|
|WEEK 7||10.11.18 | at ARKANSAS | WIN
||10.11.14 | at MISSISSIPPI STATE | WIN|
|WEEK 8||10.18.14 | TEXAS A&M | WIN||BYE|
|WEEK 9||10.25.14 | at TENNESSEE | WIN||10.25.14 | SOUTH CAROLINA | WIN
|WEEK 10||BYE||11.1.14 | at OLE MISS | WIN|
|WEEK 11||11.8.14 | at LSU | LOSS
||11.8.14 | TEXAS A&M | WIN|
|WEEK 12||11.15.14 | MISSISSIPPI STATE | WIN||11.15.14 | at GEORGIA | LOSS|
|WEEK 13||11.22.14 | WESTERN CAROLINA | WIN||11.22.14 | SAMFORD | WIN|
|WEEK 14||11.29.14 | AUBURN | WIN||11.29.14 | at ALABAMA | LOSS|