Most people believe Alabama has the team to cruise into the College Football Playoff, and there are only a couple of scenarios where the Crimson Tide would not go undefeated.
But some advanced stats gathered by Collin Wilson of The Action Network show that Alabama could be vulnerably in multiple areas against three teams in particular. As a caveat to his argument, Wilson noted that Alabama is projected to be No. 1 when the first College Football Playoff rankings are released at the end of the month. And the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Alabama at -225 to win the national championship, meaning a bettor would wager $22.50 to win $10. The implied probability of the Tide winning it all is nearly 70 percent.
Wilson also noted that Paul Finebaum earlier this season said that Ohio State, Notre Dame and LSU could beat the Tide, but interestingly, Wilson has three other teams.
“But if you want to beat Alabama,” Wilson wrote, “you need to be well-rounded, because against Missouri, the Tide proved that they can play under both quarterbacks.”
Here are Alabama’s most vulnerable areas:
- Rushing Explosiveness
- Defensive Line Havoc
- Turnover Margin
- Percentage of First Downs Allowed on First or Second Down
- Special Teams: Field Goal Kicking
Wilson notes that opponents can move the ball against Alabama on first or second down, and the Crimson Tide rank 110th defensively in this category.
“Any opponent that excels in converting first downs, and converting them early, can have the Tide defense on its heels,” he wrote.
Alabama also benefits from 3.4 points of turnover luck per game. And to no surprise to anyone who has followed Alabama, it struggles in field goal kicking. Wilson wrote that Alabama is 110th in field goal value.
The three teams that have the ingredients to upset the Tide? Michigan, Georgia and Oklahoma.
“Michigan by far is the best defense suited to slow down Alabama,” he wrote. “Before Week 8 kicks off, The Action Network power rankings would line this game on a neutral field at Alabama -9, while S&P+ would have a point spread of Crimson Tide -6.5. In that scenario, I would back the Wolverines with no hedge on any futures.”
Advance stats list Georgia as a touchdown underdog in a potential meeting with Alabama.
“We mentioned some of the advanced passing defense stats for Michigan, and Georgia also has been successful against the pass, led by cornerback DeAndre Baker,” Wilson wrote, and admitted this argument is tough following the LSU loss. “The Bulldogs defense ranks sixth in yards allowed per pass attempt.”
Oklahoma has the offensive firepower to go toe-to-toe with Alabama.
“It would take plenty of convincing for me to take a money line wager on Oklahoma to beat Alabama with that defense, but offensively, the Sooners can trade punches against the Crimson Tide,” he wrote.