During the college football season, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay kick off each week by settling a debate, then they discuss emerging NFL prospects and look ahead to next week.
The discussion: What are the best and worst potential BCS title matchups for the undefeated contenders?
Mel Kiper: This Alabama team is not as good as last year's version. That's not just my assessment, but the same one held by folks around that program. This isn't a rip, because the Tide deserve their ranking. It's just reality and helps frame this discussion.
Coaches knew the massive talent drain that happened when Bama had five players taken among the first 35 picks in April made this team a little lesser than last year's. They were reminded Saturday just how vulnerable this team is to very good competition. LSU wins that game if it coaches better -- simple as that. Hearing things like how well Bama would stack up against the Jacksonville Jaguars was totally ludicrous even before the LSU game. Nick Saban would tell you the same thing. (And any person who claims to know football and would ask that kind of question should have his or her head and eyes checked.)
Instead, what we need to talk about is how well the Crimson Tide match up against the other undefeated teams in the BCS title race. Omitted from this exercise is one dark-horse team, Georgia. The Dawgs have the talent to play for a BCS title but will need to win the SEC Championship Game and get some help.
The Tide are vulnerable against Texas A&M this Saturday and Georgia later on if they end up playing the Dawgs. Saturday's game against A&M is a major challenge in terms of a physical and emotional bounce back. But among the undefeated teams left?
Best matchup: Notre Dame. The Irish could really slow the Bama offense, because the Irish are a rare team that can physically contend with Bama's prospect-loaded offensive line. But Notre Dame won't be able to score points on Bama's defense unless it sees drastic improvement.
Worst matchup: Kansas State. Bama is exceptional tackling on the edges, which helps against Oregon, but Kansas State can run with power inside, something LSU proved you can do against the Tide. Why not Oregon? I think people focus on the Oregon offense against Bama's D. Sure, the Ducks can score points, but Bama's huge advantage is that its offensive line can overwhelm Oregon's run defense. I don't like the defensive matchup for the Ducks.