The only way the Crimson Tide might lose is if Alabama beats itself

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- First, a disclaimer: That was not a championship belt Jonathan Allen was waving around the Alabama sideline.

No, that would have been too presumptuous even for the nation's No. 1 squad seemingly on a rocket sled to another national championship.

Allen, Alabama's senior defensive end, was merely parading around a homemade trinket the Crimson Tide call the "Ball Out Belt." It looks like one of those gaudy title belts a pro wrestler throws in rival's face after hitting an elbow drop off the top rope and scoring a 1-2-3.

The stakes here, of course, are much higher. Allen's 30-yard fumble return for a touchdown earned him the Ball Out Belt handed out to the last player to be involved in an Alabama-caused turnover.

You might have noticed Bama's D has snatched a few of those this season. This particular turnover in the third quarter broke open what turned out to be a 33-14 victory against No. 6 Texas A&M.

"Usually," teammate Minkah Fitzpatrick said, "defensive linemen don't get the belt."

Not when they're 290-pound linemen outrunning Texas A&M's offense.

But for the record, it was Alabama's 12th non-offensive score this season. For the 10th game in a row, the Tide produced such a score. For the third time in a row, they beat a ranked team. For the 20th time in a row, they won.

Ridiculous, right? Not when you consider that all the bloviating, all the hype is about to get worse. The Crimson Tide head to a bye week having to fight off more labels than challenges.

No doubt these two weeks will leave plenty of air time to contemplate just how good the Tide are. Best under Nick Saban? The defense certainly has to be in that discussion.

All of it is coming to a sports talk show near you.

"There's a big difference between resting and relaxing and being relieved," Saban cautioned.

The biggest news coming out of Saturday's game seemed to be safety Eddie Jackson's season ending with a broken leg.

Like with that, all of Alabama's remaining challenges as of now seem to be internal. Texas A&M was dispatched perhaps a little later than bettors holding onto the 18-point spread would have liked, but eventually the Aggies succumbed.

This is the best Texas A&M team Kevin Sumlin has produced. It actually held the lead for 6½ tenuous minutes in the third quarter. That is, until Alabama scored that last 21 points.

Suddenly, there are only four games left in the regular season. The toughest four-game stretch in recent memory is almost ... a memory.

Taken as a whole, this doesn't seem like a team that is going to be victimized by a Kick Six. It won't need a fourth-quarter onside kick in the national championship to get by like it did against Clemson.

"I think we learned a whole lot about ourselves the last couple of weeks," Fitzpatrick said. "This week we were behind."

Imagine that. When the Aggies drove the first possession of the second half down to score a touchdown and make it 14-13, eyebrows were raised.

Hopes remained that way. Remember, this was a team that trailed by three touchdowns at Ole Miss.

The challenges seem to be internal because Alabama was only 2 for 5 scoring touchdowns in the red zone.

There is still the feeling that, once quarterback Jalen Hurts learns the game, he's going to be remarkable.

On Saturday, Hurts threw two interceptions to go along with his three total touchdowns (two passing).

These are things the Tide can work on during practices that feature both Blake Sims -- who played as Trevor Knight on the scout team two years after leaving the program -- and the daily awarding of the Ball Out Belt.

"It's really, like you said, internal, us executing and doing our job.," Fitzpatrick said. "Because when teams make plays against us, it's us not doing what we're supposed to do. There's nobody better than us."

Somebody had to say it.

The tone was set when special teams player and five-star freshman Mack Wilson leveled a Texas A&M returner after Bama took a 6-0 first-quarter lead. It continued when Knight was sacked five times while committing two turnovers.

While Knight's four-touchdown Sugar Bowl performance from January 2014 was probably a distant memory, some measurements can be made from Saturday.

In that 45-31 upset of Alabama in New Orleans, Knight completed 32 of 44 passes. Against the latest version of Alabama, he completed 14 of 31 attempts and seemed to be harassed constantly.

Prior to Allen's scoop and score, Alabama's Tim Williams nailed Knight for a 14-yard sack. On the next play, as linebacker Ryan Anderson bore down, replays seem to indicate Knight just lost control of the ball.

Enter Allen, one of eight Alabama defenders to score a touchdown this season.

"That was a real turning point in the game because it changed the momentum," Saban said. "Those plays are always huge. That was especially huge in this game."

They're all huge, but consider the Tide have just sliced through No. 16 Arkansas, No. 9 Tennessee and No. 6 Texas A&M by combined victory margin of 77 points.

That leads to the kind of confidence that can sometimes only be measured behind the scenes. In the closing moments of Saturday's game, Williams stalked the Alabama bench screaming, "Fifteen who?"

That was a reference the number of Aggies' All-American defensive end Myles Garrett, whose stats were impressive -- seven tackles (3.5 for loss) -- but impact was minimal.

"We got 56 [Williams], 22 [Ryan Anderson] and 93 [Allen]," bellowed Allen, referencing himself last.

If there is criticism of this latest dynastic chase, it continues to be internal.

"We gave up 100 yards rushing," Allen said later. "If we're the best defense, we can't worry about that. There's a lot of room for us to improve. A hundred yards is way too much. We're actually quite pissed off about it, to be honest."

It was 114 rushing yards, actually, but who's counting?

There's now two weeks for Alabama to tighten its belt.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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