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With 7 Games Left, Who Challenges Alabama?

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Alabama Football: The 5 Teams Who Could Beat the Tide

Who Will Challenge Alabama?
Nelson Chenault-US Presswire

Six weeks into the college football season we have been reminded on numerous occasions that college football is one unpredictable game as top teams from the preseason can’t even buy a house in the neighborhood of the top 10.

The University of Alabama football team has been affected by this chaos like many other programs, but in the reverse.

Alabama had one of the scariest preseason schedules, featuring two top 10 opponents in the first three weeks of the season. However we have since found out the Michigan Wolverines and Arkansas Razorbacks are not the teams pundits believed they were at the start of the season. A daunting schedule in August suddenly does not look so scary in October.

While the Crimson Tide’s schedule has made it easy to accumulate a 5-0 record the question remains: will Alabama be truly tested at any point during the 2012 regular season? If so, who will be the team that will give them that test?

While an easy season slate allows for plenty of success, it can come at a price. Crimson Tide fans have enjoyed watching their team dominate opponents; however, if Alabama is not tested it could lead to struggles in the post season. It is important for any team to play in close contest, to be put under duress during the first 12 games of the season to expose any weaknesses a team may have.

With 7 games remaining on the schedule in the regular season, the Crimson Tide can still be tested by any one of their opponents, however, the biggest test may not be who you think.

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Alabama Football: The 5 Teams Who Could Beat the Tide

5. Auburn Tigers
John Reed-US Presswire

5. The Auburn Tigers

In 2012 the Auburn Tigers have undergone all sorts of turmoil: the team is still trying to find an identity, coaches are still trying to insert their systems and questions of quitting have been rampant on the plains. The Tigers sit at 1-4 on the season and while most would leave them off this list you can not overlook the fact this is the Iron Bowl.

This is the biggest game on both Alabama and Auburn’s schedules each year regardless of talent level or record. In the Iron Bowl, nothing matters as all stops are pulled out in this game; that makes Auburn a very dangerous team.

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Alabama Football: The 5 Teams Who Could Beat the Tide

4. Texas A&M Aggies
Brett Davis-US Presswire

4. Texas A&M Aggies

The Texas A&M Aggies were expected to struggle during their first season in the Southeastern Conference, but instead they've made strides in showing they belong. Texas A&M played the fourth ranked Florida Gators extremely close at the beginning of the season, losing by just three points late in the game for their only loss. Had the Aggies been able to hold on in that game we are probably talking about a top 10 team.

While we will find out more about the Aggies in the coming weeks, we already know that freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel is the real deal. Although young, he’s the type of play maker you have to worry about because not only has be been effective passing the ball (1285 yards, 11 touchdowns, 2 interceptions), he is just as dangerous on his feet (495 yards and 7 touchdowns). Alabama has had success against duel-threat quarterbacks before, but none as polished in the passing game as Manziel.

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Alabama Football: The 5 Teams Who Could Beat the Tide

3. Tennessee Volunteers
Randy Sartin-US Presswire

3. Tennessee Volunteers

The Tennessee Volunteers have already slipped up twice this season, but I am not selling them just yet. Tyler Bray is a big play quarterback and if he is making smart decisions under center, protecting the football, Tennessee is one of the most dangerous teams in the country.

Bray has a reputation of being a bit of a gunslinger. If he can get the ball into the awaiting hands of Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson instead of Alabama’s defensive backs, the Tide could be in for a long day as the Volunteers look to beat Alabama for the first time in 5 years. However given Bray’s reputation, that is a big if.

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Alabama Football: The 5 Teams Who Could Beat the Tide

2. Mississippi State
Chuck Cook-US Presswire

2. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Dan Mullen has slowly built up the Mississippi State Bulldog program and 2012 may be their year. And by “their year” I mean they may win 10 games, which in Starkville is the equivalent to winning the Super Bowl. All kidding aside, while they have not been tested in the early portion of the schedule the Bulldogs have the pieces in place to give Alabama plenty of fits.

Alabama has done a great job this season of protecting the football; however, the Bulldogs are one of the best in the country at taking it away. While they have been mediocre at stopping the run, Mississippi State’s ball hawking secondary led by Johnathan Banks and Darius Slay has the potential to make the game changing plays to steal a game.

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Alabama Football: The 5 Teams Who Could Beat the Tide

1. LSU Tigers
Derrick Hingle-US Presswire

1. LSU Tigers

Although this game was supposed to be the “Game of the Century: Part 3” this contest may have lost a bit of its luster after LSU's loss to Florida, but come November 3rd you will never know. The Crimson Tide will be forced to travel into the stadium known as “Death Valley” for an evening affair in one of the most anticipated games on the college football schedule this season.

Regardless of either team’s records in this game the LSU Tigers will be out for blood in this game after being embarrassed in last year’s national championship game. I fully expect Les Miles to reach deep into that hat of his and pull out every trick in the book in this contest-a game that could decide the SEC West and a possible trip to the national championship game. This is the game where the Tide will need to have their guard up and come in ready to play. But they already knew that.