Second-half outlook: Alabama


Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

As dominant as Alabama has been on defense, the Crimson Tide has taken some hits. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower's being lost for the season means that Nico Johnson and Jerrell Harris will both have to keep coming at the “Will” inside linebacker spot. Cornerback and punt returner Javier Arenas is also nursing sore ribs that kept him out of the South Carolina game. The Crimson Tide have two big rival games coming up in Tennessee and LSU. Both games are at home, though, and they’re separated by a bye week. Getting quarterback Greg McElroy back to throwing the football the way he did in those first five games will be key for the Crimson Tide, and they also need to find a way to get Julio Jones more touches. He’s only scored one touchdown all season.

Best-case scenario: McElroy returns to his early-season form. The defense remains dominant and Alabama sweeps through its second consecutive unbeaten regular season to get to Atlanta and win its first SEC title in 10 years, which would put the Crimson Tide in the BCS National Championship Game.

Worst-case scenario: The Crimson Tide have to rely too much on running back Mark Ingram, become stagnant on offense and end up losing at home to LSU. The head-to-head tiebreaker puts the Tigers in the SEC championship game and leaves the Tide at home. Alabama gets bumped by LSU and Florida in the BCS equation and goes to Orlando to play in the Capital One Bowl.

Prediction: BCS National Championship Game. The Crimson Tide head to Pasadena to play for their first national title since 1992.