There’s one team that everyone’s after in college football this year and that’s Alabama. The Crimson Tide have won three of the last four BCS National Championships and are on their way to a third in a row.
Alabama has already faced one of its biggest challenges of the year, escaping College Station with a win over Texas A&M.
But who is left that could beat Alabama, either in the regular or postseason? Let’s take a look at the top six teams that could dethrone the Tide—three from the SEC and three from outside the conference.
Of course, Alabama shut out the Tigers 21-0 in a rematch in the BCS National Championship in early 2012.
But the regular-season games between the two teams have come down to one or two plays. There’s no reason to believe this year will be any different. Alabama’s secondary has looked suspect at times, and LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is one of the top quarterbacks in the country.
That said, LSU’s defense hasn’t exactly been rock-solid this year either. It’s safe to say this won’t be another 9-6 game.
Upset chance: 50 percent
The Bulldogs played Alabama in last year’s SEC Championship Game in one of the best games, if not the best, of the college football season. There is a notion that teams have to have a dual-threat quarterback to beat Alabama, but Aaron Murray came within five yards of dispelling that notion.
This year, Georgia is already well-positioned to make a return trip to Atlanta, but it's decimated by injuries. Murray is still Murray, but he would lack some of the weapons needed to take down the Crimson Tide.
Upset chance: 30 percent
The Gamecocks have been squeaking through their schedule this year, save for a close loss to Georgia. But the Bulldogs’ injuries have given South Carolina some hope that it could still get to Atlanta.
Jadeveon Clowney has been M.I.A. this season, but you have to imagine he would get up to play the No. 1 team in the country on a national stage. NFL scouts would be drooling over a Clowney-Cyrus Kouandjio battle.
But South Carolina just doesn’t have the offensive weapons to keep up.
Upset chance: 15 percent
The Buckeyes boast the longest active winning streak in the FBS at 18, and it looks like they’ll be at 23 when they travel to Michigan for what could be an undefeated matchup.
But should Ohio State make it past the Wolverines and a Big Ten Championship Game, Urban Meyer will get another shot at Saban and Alabama. Carlos Hyde is running strong, and Braxton Miller is commanding the offense, but the Buckeyes defense doesn’t look like it’s playing at a championship level.
Upset chance: 20 percent
The matchup the country has been awaiting for years. Oregon’s offense, Alabama’s defense. New kids on the block, the old guard in college football. Crazy uniforms and Nike money against history and tradition.
The hype for this game would be unreal, and the game would live up to it. The Crimson Tide have proven vulnerable to fast-tempo offenses with elite talent, and the Ducks do it as well as anyone in the country.
Upset chance: 50 percent
This game would be the opposite. Power vs. power. Strength vs. strength. Proponents of the spread, hurry-up, no-huddle offenses would weep in a corner watching these teams pound away at each other all night with two- and three-tight end sets and pulling guards.
It would be a slugfest for sure, and Alabama usually wins slugfests. But LSU has beaten Alabama in this type of game before, and Georgia came oh-so-close last year. Stanford has the personnel to compete with the Tide in what would be an ugly game in the most beautiful way.
Upset chance: 40 percent