College Football Playoff Team Profile: No. 1 Alabama
If someone had just looked at the top of the college football preseason polls and most recent number one seed on the College Football Playoff rankings, they would be justified in assuming that it was business as usual in 2021, with the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide going wire to wire as the country’s best team.
After a season that was a struggle at times, Alabama will take on upstart Cincinnati from the American Conference in the Cotton Bowl in a CFP semifinal on New Year’s Eve.
The first indication that the Tide may have a tougher road to the playoff than they experienced in 2020 was a close call against Florida when a furious Gator comeback fell short 31-29 with a failed two-point conversion with just over three minutes left in the game.
Alabama jumped out to a 21-3 lead and then held on after getting outgained 440-331 for the contest, then rebounded with a pair of lopsided wins, including subduing high flying Ole Miss by a score of 42-21.
The following week the Tide found themselves in a frenzied affair at Texas A&M, where despite generating almost 150 yards more in the offense than the Aggies, they failed to hold onto a seven-point lead with five minutes left in the game in a 41-38 loss.
It put Alabama’s backs against the wall for the rest of the season and left them with no margin for error, especially with fellow SEC member Georgia looking virtually unbeatable as they assumed the top spot in the polls and then the CFP rankings.
Alabama ran the table for the rest of the regular season, but in their final three SEC West games, the Tide’s average margin of victory was just five points against LSU, Arkansas, and Auburn, where it took four overtime periods to subdue the Tigers 24-22.
Very few pundits and oddsmakers predicted that Alabama would be able to dominate Georgia in the SEC Championship game the way they did in a 41-24 victory that clinched a berth in the CFP for the Tide.
Great Rankings on Defense and Offense
Statistically, Alabama is eighth in the country in total yards allowed, giving up 306 yards per game, and are ranked fourth in the nation in rushing, allowing just 83 yards a game on the ground.
That defensive prowess wasn’t necessarily reflected on the scoreboard, with the Tide allowing just over 20 points a game, impressive at 20th in the nation but doesn’t reflect their overall strength.
Offensively, the Tide is also ranked in the top ten in total offense at 495 yards a game and are led by Heisman Trophy candidate Bryce Young, who is throwing for 332 yards per contest and has tossed 43 touchdown passes against just four interceptions.
Alabama also has a running back in Brian Robinson Jr., who has pounded out 1064 yards for 14 touchdowns and is averaging 4.8 yards a carry.
While Alabama’s 2021 season hasn’t been quite as impressive as their 2020 campaign, their 12-1 record came against a much improved SEC West, with teams such as Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss putting better teams on the field.
If the Tide’s performance against Georgia is any indication of what they’re capable of, the rest of the CFP field, including Cincinnati, could be in for a tough couple of contests.
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