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Senior Bowl’s Jim Nagy calls talent gap between Alabama, Clemson ‘significant’

As No. 1-ranked Alabama sits idle this week, speculation on which team might be able to slow the Crimson Tide Express has hit warp speed.

Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide is outscoring opponents, on average, 54-16 en route to more than 560 yards a game.

There are two defenses out there, Reese’s Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy said, that could hang for a while, but, even then, there is no guarantee.

Three teams that could give Alabama a game?

Nagy, a former NFL scout for 18 years, joined me and Lee Shirvanian on “The Opening Kickoff” on WNSP-FM 105.5 before heading to the Clemson-Florida State game Saturday.

Could Dabo Swinney’s Tigers match up with Alabama?

“I think there is a big gap,” Nagy said. “There some teams right there with Clemson. Notre Dame is one of those teams. There is a significant game in my mind (between Alabama and Clemson). In the playing style, too.

“Alabama’s playing style is just so much more physical than any other team in the country.”

The only thing close, he says, you have to go out of the southeast.

“Really Notre Dame and Michigan are the only two defenses are the only ones that rival Alabama,” he said. “Usually, you have to go to the SEC for that brand of football. There are two teams, if they got into the playoff, I think Notre Dame and Michigan are the only two teams defensively that would have a chance of slowing Alabama down.”

The Irish is holding opponents to 340 total yards and 19 points a game.

The Wovlerines defense, on the other hand, has held 220 yards and 14 points a game.

“Both of those defenses have a lot of NFL talent on them,” Nagy explained. “It’s the playing style. They play really urgent, fly to the ball. They’re reckless. Anybody who has seen Alabama’s defense, that’s how both teams play.

“I’m not saying they would hold them under 30, but I think if only two defenses would have a chance it would be those two units.”

Of course, as Nagy pointed out, a team’s defense is only part of the equation.

“I don’t think anyone can score with them,” he said.

Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Heim.

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