Analysis: Here's how 5 SEC football teams could beat Alabama - and why they won't

·4 min read

Florida’s 31-29 loss to Alabama on Saturday should accomplish a couple of things:

The Crimson Tide's tightrope victory should extinguish any thought Alabama players might have that they could cruise through the SEC.

And future Alabama opponents should take it as a sign the Crimson Tide isn't invincible.

If Florida gets another shot at Alabama in the SEC Championship or College Football Playoff, Alabama ought to be on guard.

Here are five other SEC teams that can beat Alabama.

Georgia

When they play: Not scheduled; could meet in SEC Championship on Dec. 4 or CFP

Why Georgia can win: As South Carolina coach Shane Beamer put it Saturday, Georgia has “like a hundred five-star football players on their defense.” The Bulldogs’ loaded defense is reminiscent of a vintage Alabama defense. Georgia’s offense started slowly but was missing wide receiver Kearis Jackson and tight end Darnell Washington. This offense should function at a higher level come December.

OPINION: Don't let Alabama's close call against Florida make you think Tide isn't team to beat

Why Georgia should be concerned: We’re not living in the same college football era as when LSU beat Alabama 9-6 in 2011. No matter how good a team's defense is, it’s going to have to score at least a few touchdowns to beat the Crimson Tide nowadays. Alabama’s defense proved to be vulnerable against Florida's ground game, but that was partly because of quarterback Emory Jones’ running ability and Alabama’s struggle to defend the speed option and read-option. Bulldogs quarterback JT Daniels isn’t a running threat, and Georgia’s pro-style offense is easier to prepare for than Florida's system.

Ole Miss

When they play: Oct. 2 in Tuscaloosa

Why Ole Miss can win: The last three teams that beat Alabama scored 46, 48 and 44 points. The Rebels lead the nation in scoring at 52.7 points per game, and quarterback Matt Corral is looking the part of Heisman Trophy contender. Corral can run, too, a useful trait when facing a Nick Saban defense. The last time Alabama faced a Heisman quarterback? Joe Burrow, when LSU beat Alabama 46-41 in 2019.

Why Ole Miss should be concerned: Sure, the Ole Miss defense that surrendered 63 points in a loss to Alabama last season looks improved through three weeks. But Alabama’s offense will pose problems that Louisville, Austin Peay and Tulane didn’t.

Texas A&M

When they play: Oct. 9 in College Station

Why Texas A&M can win: The Aggies lead the nation in scoring defense. If A&M is undefeated entering the Alabama game, expect Kyle Field to be rocking like The Swamp was on Saturday, creating a hostile environment. Florida’s running back duo of Malik Davis and Nay'Quan Wright rushed for 154 yards on 17 carries against Alabama. The Aggies have a talented duo of their own in Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane.

Why Texas A&M should be concerned: Beating Alabama would have been hard enough with Haynes King at quarterback. Beating Alabama with a backup, Zach Calzada, after King’s Week 2 tibia fracture? That sounds far-fetched. Calzada has completed 51.4% of his passes. The Aggies might be a fraud. They beat Colorado 10-7 in Week 2. The Buffalos lost to Minnesota 30-0 the next week.

Arkansas

When they play: Nov. 20 in Tuscaloosa

Why Arkansas can win: The list of quarterbacks to beat Alabama during the Saban era includes dual threats Johnny Manziel, Nick Marshall, Trevor Knight, Bo Wallace, Cardale Jones, Chad Kelly, Deshaun Watson and Bo Nix. Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson is a talented runner, and the Razorbacks' offensive line is winning the line of scrimmage the way Florida’s did throughout the final three quarters Saturday. The Arkansas defense is holding up, too.

Why Arkansas should be concerned: Although Jefferson runs well, he isn’t the caliber of all-around quarterback as Manziel, Wallace, Watson or many of the others to beat Alabama. Arkansas was basically one-dimensional through two games. Jefferson’s game is comparable to Emory Jones, but he’s not as good of a passer. And if Florida can’t beat Alabama at The Swamp, it's hard to see Arkansas doing so in Tuscaloosa.

Auburn

When they play: Nov. 27 in Auburn

Why Auburn can win: No opponent has given Nick Saban more trouble than Auburn during his Alabama tenure. The Tide are 9-5 in the Iron Bowl under Saban. Auburn has two running backs averaging more than 100 yards per game, plus a mobile quarterback in Nix. Defense doesn’t look bad, either.

Why Auburn should be concerned: Auburn feels like Florida Light. If the Gators couldn’t beat Alabama, can Florida Light? Despite Nix’s mobility, he doesn’t run the option like Jones does.

Blake Toppmeyer is an SEC Columnist for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at BToppmeyer@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: Alabama football: Here's how Ole Miss, Georgia, Auburn could beat Tide

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