Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
No. 2 Alabama is off this weekend, and based on what the Crimson Tide accomplished the last five weeks, they probably deserve a break.
Alabama’s narrow 12-10 win over Tennessee didn’t score a lot of points with the pollsters and has been cause for concern there in Tuscaloosa, but the Crimson Tide actually accomplished something that’s extremely rare.
They won against SEC competition for the fifth consecutive week.
According to the folks at ESPN Stats & Information, that’s only been done one other time this decade in the SEC. Alabama also did it in 2002.
Again, that’s winning five consecutive SEC games without a bye or nonconference game mixed in somewhere. The fact that only two teams have accomplished that feat this decade magnifies how difficult it is to win in the SEC, not to mention how difficult it is to make it through unscathed.
Research by ESPN Stats & Information showed that the 11 other schools in the league had a combined 33 opportunities this decade to pull off five consecutive wins over SEC schools and failed every time.
Included in that group were eight teams that went on to play in the SEC championship game, four of them league champs. Two of the four SEC champions that failed to do it were Florida in 2006 and Georgia in 2002. Both teams took their only loss of the season in the fifth game of that stretch.
Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Ole Miss combined for only two of the 33 opportunities, so the numbers weren't skewed by the weaker teams in the conference this decade. Florida, LSU, Georgia, Auburn and Tennessee accounted for 18 of 33 opportunities. Even Steve Spurrier's Gators couldn't pull it off in 2000.