History aside, it is easy to understand why this current Alabama Crimson Tide unit is the best team in the nation through the first month of the season. Head Coach Nick Saban finds a way to put a top team on the field year in and year out, and this year is no different. Usually, the Tide have to endure a loss at some point in the season in order to wake them up to their true potential. Nevertheless, this Alabama football team looks like they are already playing with a chip on their shoulder after being devastated by the Clemson Tigers in the final moments of the National Championship Game last year.
The Hot Start
Nick Saban has proven that he is not afraid to open the season against a top school from a Power Five conference nearly every year. This year was no different with the Tide opening up against another top five team in the Florida State Seminoles. Although the Florida State team that we have seen on the field the last few Saturdays is not quite the same team that Alabama opened with, that should not take away from the way that the Tide beat the Seminoles Week one. Prior to quarterback Deondre Francois going down at the end of the game, the Crimson Tide were still handling Jimbo Fisher’s team and ultimately knocked off a top competitor that day.
Even though that may be Alabama’s only current win over a top 25 team (compared to Clemson who has three such wins), the dominance of the team wearing crimson and white has not disappeared since that opening game. With consecutive wins over conference foes, the Crimson Tide have outscored the three Power Five opponents that they have beaten by a combined score of 149-10.
It is scary to think, especially after the two blowout wins over Vanderbilt and Ole Miss, that Alabama could potentially be just as strong on their second and third teams, as they are with their starters. For example, Alabama’s offense has four different players with 199 yards or better on the ground this season. Both Jalen Hurts and backup quarterback Tua
Tagovailoa have combined for almost 1,000 yards through the air with 10 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. All of those numbers do not even dive into the dominance that the defense has provided by giving up more than 10 points only once this season.
Why this team is different from last year
As I previously mentioned, this team is battling its way through this season with a chip on its shoulder after January’s loss to Clemson. As if that is not enough, Jalen Hurts had to endure the entire offseason answering critics’ questions about whether he could become a deep ball threat. Many assumed that if Hurts could not prove that he could throw the deep ball, then Saban would ultimately hand over the quarterback duties to incoming freshman Tua
Tagovailoa. However, Hurts has not truly needed the threat of the deep ball through the first five games of the season. Instead, he has relied on his playmaking abilities as a passer to help lead the top-ranked Tide to another undefeated start.
With 461 yards on the ground through the month of September, last years’ SEC Offensive Player of the Year ranks third in the conference in rushing yards behind only John Kelly of Tennessee (494) and Nick Chubb of Georgia (480). On top of that, Hurts has put up these rushing numbers with 40 fewer carries than Kelly. Although his passing numbers rank him outside of the top 10 in the conference, he is still yet to turn the ball over.
Alabama, as a team, has not turned the ball over since the first half of the Iron Bowl last November. Something else to make note of is the fact that Hurts has both rushed and passed for over 100 yards in three of the first five games this season. In comparison, Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant has only run for more than 100 yards once this season and has turned the ball over three times through the air.
Can anyone stop the Tide from rolling?
The Crimson Tide will spend the next month of their schedule playing the role of heavy favorites against four different SEC teams with a coach likely on the hot seat. After beating Vanderbilt and Ole Miss by a combined 125-3, the Tide will head into College Station as four touchdown favorites against a one-loss Aggies team. Early indications from Las Vegas also has Alabama predicted as five touchdown favorites over Tennessee and nearly four touchdown favorites over LSU.
This shows that, aside from a letdown at College Station this weekend or at Starkville in mid-November, the in-state rival Auburn Tigers or the Georgia Bulldogs could be the only things standing in the way of Nick Saban and the Tide reaching a fourth straight College Football Playoff. As long as Alabama can avoid upset by anyone on their schedule, look for the Tide to return to the National Championship Game yet again this year with redemption on their minds.
Nick Saban is the one of the greatest coaches of all-time, which means as long as he is on the sideline coaching for The University of Alabama, we should expect the Crimson Tide to be competing for the SEC and National Championships each and every year.
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