There is no question, except for with two Associated Press voters, about the No. 1 team in college football after six weeks. And it would be easy to argue for Alabama when it comes to the best offense in college football. The Crimson Tide rank fifth nationally in offense without having to use their starting quarterback at all in the fourth quarter.
The defense is another story. The Crimson Tide gave up a season-high 31 points in a win over Arkansas. It was the highest scoring output for an opponent in a regular-season game since a Sept. 2016 win at No. 19 Ole Miss. Is that a problem? ESPN college football analyst and radio host Paul Finebaum says to relax.
“I am not (concerned),” Finebaum said during his weekly Monday appearance on WJOX in Birmingham. “As long as you have the offense that Alabama has, who is going to outscore you? That’s not what Nick Saban wants, and that’s what Alabama fans are used to, but when you get in these types of games that defy logic, then dimensions change. I was surprised. If Arkansas had a calling card, and frankly they really didn’t, it was defense. It wasn’t the fact that they could put points on the board.
“ … If you’re on the Alabama defensive side, you can give up 55 points and still win every game.”
Alabama (6-0, 3-0) opponents have 96 points against the Crimson Tide this season. Last year’s championship defense gave up 167 over 14 games.
“This is not going to rank with the great Alabama defenses of all time,” Finebaum said. “But it is going to rank with the great Alabama offenses. There is a danger later on. We saw that three years ago in the Clemson game. Get into a shootout, and you have to do unnatural things almost to win the game like an onside kick. Right now, it’s probably good for Nick Saban to be able to go in there today and rant and rave. Because he has another team coming in Saturday night that likely is able to score a lot a points.”
Saban addressed his defense’s performance after the win by saying, “We need to coach them better, we need to prepare them better. They need to be able to be able to make adjustments in the game better. When we see different things in a game, they’ve got to be able to play them on principle and then after that, confidence that they can go do that. And I just felt like we didn’t do a good job of that. That’s my fault, that’s my responsibility. That’s on us as coaches. We’ve got to do a better job of teaching these guys so they’re better prepared when the game comes and they can make those adjustments that they need to make.”
Alabama faces the SEC’s leading passer from 2017 in Drew Lock and the Missouri Tigers. The Crimson Tide open as four-touchdown favorites. Alabama owns the all-time advantage 3-2, defeating the Tigers three-straight times, winning the most recent meeting between the two, 42-13, in the 2014 SEC Championship Game. Alabama also won the only other SEC matchup between the two, 42-10, in Columbia, Mo., in 2012.