For a good part of Monday night’s college football title game, it looked like the Alabama Crimson Tide may make it two losses in a row on the game’s biggest stage.
The spirited Georgia Bulldogs held the mighty Tide at bay for the first half, stymying their potent offense and going into the locker room with a 13-0 lead in front of what was for all intents and purposes a home crowd.
But has always been the case with Bama during the Nick Saban era, you can never count them out.
Alabama made several key halftime adjustments including benching dynamic quarterback Jalen Hurts in favor of freshman Tua Tagovailoa and it worked. The Tide reasserted itself, took the game into overtime and put it away 26-23 in overtime.
— theScore (@theScore) January 9, 2018
It was a crowning achievement for Saban and one is left wondering what more he can possibly accomplish after winning his sixth national title.
The Nick Saban Decade began in Atlanta in August 2008 with a 34-10 victory over No. 9 Clemson so one-sided that Tigers coach Tommy Bowden came out and said his team had been “whipped about every way you get whipped” — a remarkable thing for a coach to say.
The Saban Decade ended in Atlanta, five national championships and 124 victories later, with a 26-23 overtime victory over Georgia that defied belief, logic and everything we have ever been taught about what it takes to win in college football.
A win that defied belief ended a decade that defied history. How do you measure how dominant Alabama has been over the past 10 years? There are the numbers. The Tide played for six national championships, winning five. Only six other schools have won five national titles in the poll era.
Alabama won 125 games in the past 10 years, 13 more than second-place Ohio State. If you average 12.5 wins a season, that’s pretty dominant.
The Saban Decade has been marked by flawless, relentless performances and all the drama of a thresher going through a wheat field. You pretty much know the outcome. Yet Alabama didn’t lead Georgia on Monday night until DeVonta Smith, another freshman, caught that 41-yard strike from Tagovailoa.
You can make the case that any coach who loses the Kick-Six, who loses a national championship game with 1 second to play, deserves to win a game like this. But even Saban sounded a bit mystified after the game.
“It is hard,” Saban said. “We knew it would be a hard game. … If you can’t overcome hard, you’re never going to have any great victories in your life.”
The win was all the sweeter for Saban considering how hard that the team was hit by injury and didn’t even win its own conference.
What do you do for an encore?
The Georgia Bulldogs were valiant in defeat, just as they were in their phenomenal 52-48 double-overtime win against Oklahoma at the Rose Bowl but there is just something about that Alabama mojo that very few have been able to beat.
It starts with Saban who can now be included in the conversation of greatest coaches in college football history.
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