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Saturday will show us if SEC has true championship contenders

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Alabama offensive line facing tough test from Texas A&M defense (1:49)

Brad Edwards goes to the touchscreen to break down the matchup between Alabama's offensive line and Texas A&M's defense. (1:49)

With every thunderous thud from Leonard Fournette's thick, tree-trunk legs, LSU's frightening running back looks more like an unstoppable force. As every bit of his chiseled, 230-pound body slams into what have essentially become tackling dummies each week, Fournette seemingly gets stronger, as does his team's chances at something special in 2015.

Through Fournette, LSU has carved up its first five opponents and appears to be the team to beat in a wild SEC. But these days, there always seems to be a catch. For as great as Fournette has been (a nation-leading 1,022 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns) and for as (really) good as we think LSU is, we can't crown the Tigers as any sort of future champions at anything.

Can LSU pass effectively when needed? What happens when an actual defense loads the box against Fournette? How will the Tigers respond at Alabama and Ole Miss? What happens when John Chavis returns to Tiger Stadium at the end of the year with the new-look Texas A&M defense?

Questions linger for the SEC favorite, and pretty much everyone else battling for deep-fried supremacy. This Saturday will go a long way to painting an even clearer championship picture for the handful of SEC -- and national championship -- contenders left.

Saturday brings us No. 6 LSU (5-0, 3-0 SEC) vs. No. 8 Florida (6-0, 4-0) and No. 9 Texas A&M (5-0, 2-0) vs. No. 10 Alabama (5-1, 2-1). If you aren't entertained by that smorgasbord of fun, excitement and drama, go sit in the corner because Saturday should be excellent.

And it will tell us who's really for real in the SEC. No team will likely be eliminated from the "good" category, but conference supremacy and playoff contention are very much on the line.

Case in point: Alabama. The Crimson Tide absolutely cannot lose to A&M and expect to stay in the SEC West race, let alone the playoff picture. Digging a two-game hole in the West will essentially bury a Tide team that is already behind Ole Miss after losing the Rebels earlier this year.

Flip the script, and if the Aggies lose, they now have to hope that a surging Alabama team loses another while they win out. Florida and LSU are actually in the best position to lose because they are cross-divisional foes, but don't think that will lessen the animosity inside Death Valley.

However, the checklist for these four teams doesn't end with wins or losses. If any of these teams are going to make championship runs, they'll have to clear up glaring issues, starting Saturday.

For Florida, which just four days ago was the national darling with first-year coach Jim McElwain, we don't know what to expect anymore. A resurgent offense led by quarterback Will Grier engineered wins over Tennessee and Ole Miss, but now Grier is lost for the season after testing positive for an NCAA banned substance. Wednesday, valuable special teams player Deiondre Porter was arrested and is accused of firing a gun in the direction of his pregnant girlfriend.

Distractions aside, Florida now must make its offense just as efficient with Treon Harris back behind center (he is 5-2 as a starter in two seasons) and this elite defense must prove it can stop Fournette, something no team has done this year. Will Florida be focused enough?

LSU's offense revolves around Fournette, but now faces the nation's 12th-ranked rush defense (99.2 yards per game). Fournette hasn't seen a rush defense with a pulse yet, and the Gators won't be afraid to stack the box. So will quarterback Brandon Harris, who has thrown for more than 100 yards just twice in five games, be able to throw on the Gators ... or anyone else once defenses bum-rush Fournette? Saturday will tell us.

Alabama's defense has been excellent since that loss to Ole Miss. It's allowed just 203.7 yards and eight points per game in the last three contests. But the Tide must face a more mobile quarterback on Saturday -- something that has so frustrated Alabama of late. Kyle Allen isn't an elite runner, but he can scramble and extend plays, and the elusive Kyler Murray should definitely see the field. Can that defense contain mobile quarterbacks? Can the secondary stop A&M's horses at receiver? Will Alabama's own quarterback, Jake Coker, be Mr. Efficient who beat Georgia, or the erratic QB who has already thrown six interceptions?

And how will the Aggies play against Alabama's pulverizing running game? Alabama breaks defenses with his physicality, and while we've seen clear improvement from A&M's defense under Chavis, there are ways to exploit a bend-but-don't-break defense. If Coker gets comfortable, he can let it rip on just about anyone. Allen's comfort will also be key. This offensive line has struggled and Alabama has the best front seven it's seen to this point.

None of these teams are perfect, and Saturday won't hurl one or two into that category, but it will create separation in the conference. And it will tell us who's truly ready for a run through the SEC ... and maybe even the playoff.