Coaches' scouting intel on top-5 teams

How do you beat Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide? Run right at them, according to one coach. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- We had planned to travel here, to Florida’s capital city, even before Florida State’s mauling of Clemson on Saturday. Given that result, it’s only fitting to base this dispatch from the home of the nation’s hottest team.

In the course of 60 minutes (30 minutes, really), the Seminoles went from a promising team to a top contender on the same level as Alabama and Oregon. They’re the nation’s elite.

“That was something, wasn’t it?” one coach told me this week, referring to FSU’s 51-14 rout of the then-No. 3 Tigers. “I think they’re going to play for the national title.”

Here’s a look at how coaches from around the country assess the Seminoles, as well as Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State and Missouri (a surprise SEC entrant). They offer insight into how the top five teams in the BCS standings beat opponents and how they can possibly be beaten.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

BCS: .9841

Next three games: Tennessee, LSU, at Mississippi State

How they beat you: “It’s not like they change what they do,” one coach said. “They want to run and be physical on offense and do the same on defense, owning the lines of scrimmage.” Added another: “We looked at how much time they spend on the ground. They’re never there. There’s a different level of physicality. It’s a talented team, obviously, but they also give great effort. It’s one thing to have skilled players, but they’re well-coached. That’s the great separator with teams.”

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for how they use their hands,” a third coach said. “They do every small thing on every play.” Another added: “They have so much damn depth.”

How you beat them: “You run right at them,” one coach said. “They don’t have that run-stopping nose tackle like they’ve had in the past. If you get anything going at all [on the ground], that will give you one-on-one chances [in the passing game] and you have to hit a few. They haven’t liked their corners for a couple of years, from what I’ve heard.”