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|Let's get it on: If Gus Bradley's Jaguars faced Nick Saban's Rolling Tide, the result would be ...|
A quarter of the way into the NFL season and when college teams start getting into the meat of their schedules, a weak NFL team and dominant FBS team emerge. But this year, the chasm between the two appears to have narrowed more than usual, with Alabama looking like a unanimous No. 1 FBS team and the Jacksonville Jaguars building quite a bit of distance between their position in the league and the second-worst team (take your pick between the winless Giants and Buccaneers and the one-win Raiders and Rams).
It's a debate that seems to pop up at this time every year: Could a college team beat an NFL team? We asked our experts how Alabama would fare against Jacksonville if the two teams played this weekend. We even put the game in Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa in front of 102,000 screaming Tide fans (we assume since the Jaguars have to offer their fans free beer to attend home games, they wouldn't travel to this one). Here are their replies:
Talent level between teams unlevelFor all of the conversation regarding the Jacksonville Jaguars' ineptitude, I'm confident Gus Bradley's squad would pummel Alabama in an exhibition game. I know the Jaguars' winless record makes them appear vulnerable against college football's top team, but the collective talent of 53 professional players would overwhelm the Crimson Tide despite the host of five-star recruits and future pros that dot Alabama's roster. A group of 18-23-year-olds simply lack the maturity and physicality to stack up in a football game against NFL players. Now, I know media type routinely tout Alabama as "the NFL's 33rd team," but only 15 or so players on the 80-man roster will make it in the NFL. That's simply not enough talent to compete with a team that features a bunch of players who should be regarded as some of the best football players in the world despite their miserable team performance.
Jaguars would roll TideJacksonville ... and by a comfortable margin. This question gets asked each time a dominant program emerges in college football and the NFL sports a team that is universally noted as inept for the league. Still, it's an NFL team, the best players participate in the league, the best of the best of college football. And, while Alabama has some of the best talent in the NCAA, there are still FAR more players on the team that one day will own the initials CPA and not NFL. One caveat: The game must be one that truly has something a stake, not an exhibition like the old College All-Stars vs. Defending NFL Champions that were played in Chicago until the mid 1970s. The college kids occasionally won that game as the vets rarely took it seriously. If this game is for real? Jags, decisively.
Not this Alabama teamAs bad as the Jaguars are, no college team would be able to hold its own against an NFL club, particularly on the line of scrimmage. Could a few Crimson Tide players start for the Jaguars today? No doubt. The very best talents on the Alabama roster would upgrade a lot of clubs. But 11-on-11, the pros would show why they are pros. And it's not as if this Alabama team looks unbeatable even at the college level. Alabama national championship teams of 2009, 2011 and 2012 all had more impressive Septembers than this year's edition.
Is Alabama even best FBS team in nation?The Jaguars would roll, though it would be sort of fun to see how many picks Blaine Gabbert -- who has as much business being an NFL starting quarterback as my next-door neighbor's 7-year-old -- would throw. Everybody on the Jags is an NFL player; maybe one-fourth of Alabama's roster will get a shot at playing in the NFL. I'm not even convinced Alabama is the best team in the nation. The Tide has yet to play a complete game. And as bad as the Jags' offense is, I have to think Maurice Jones-Drew would have room to run if the Jaguars were to play the Tide.