Commentary

Bama, others face schedule trap

BCS title hopes most often derailed when facing consecutive highly ranked teams

Updated: September 26, 2011, 1:20 PM ET
By Brian Fremeau | Football Outsiders
RichardsonAP Photo/Dave MartinTrent Richardson and the Crimson Tide have their backs against the wall versus the Florida Gators.

Following a weekend that featured several top games, a few programs seem to have separated themselves from the pack. There are certainly lingering questions for many teams, but the preseason perception of the LSU Tigers, Oklahoma Sooners and Alabama Crimson Tide has been validated. Each of those three teams has seized at least one opportunity against a top opponent and won in impressive fashion.

The key to staying on top, of course, is being able to repeat that level of performance week in and week out. That is especially relevant for the SEC contenders.

It was around the same time last year when Alabama appeared to be as invincible as ever, winning consecutive games against the Arkansas Razorbacks and Florida Gators, each ranked in the top 10 at the time. The Crimson Tide immediately followed those victories up with a trip to play the South Carolina Gamecocks and was a touchdown favorite in Columbia. By the end of the trip, Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery were household names, and Alabama's pursuit of a second consecutive BCS championship had been sidelined in a 35-21 loss.

By our Football Outsiders play-by-play and drive-based metrics, last year's Crimson Tide were better than their 10-3 record might suggest. But they were exposed to possible upsets in part due to the timing of the games. It isn't easy to run the table in a conference as deep as the SEC, and it is especially difficult to navigate consecutive game sequences against the best competition.


To read more about what this weekend's game could mean for the Alabama Crimson Tide, sign up for ESPN Insider.

Brian Fremeau

ESPN Insider
• Has been a contributor to ESPN Insider and ESPN The Magazine since 2009
• Creator of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a measure of college football team efficiency
• Contributor to Football Outsiders and his own site, bcftoys.com