Alabama is an annual national contender, so to no one’s surprise, the Crimson Tide entered as a favorite to win the SEC in 2015. But the team’s road to a championship took a detour after a 43-37 loss to Ole Miss in Week 3.
Some questioned whether Alabama would be able to rally and doubted its place as the top team in the conference. At this point, fans should expect the Tide to roll past adversity.
It happens nearly every year. If Alabama doesn’t run the table it bounces back from an upset loss by going undefeated for the remainder of the regular season.
With the exception of the “Kick-6” loss to Auburn in 2013, the Tide have gone 16-1 following their first loss in every season since 2011. In that span, Alabama has won back-to-back BCS Championships (2011, ’12) and three conference titles.
But Saturday’s win at Texas A&M was the Tide’s biggest of the 2015 season. Alabama beat an undefeated team on the road in a tough environment.
Sound familiar? That’s because the Tide accomplished the same feat two weeks prior at Georgia. Only, with the Bulldogs following up Week 5 with another loss to struggling Tennessee, it doesn’t have as much weight as the rout of the Aggies.
It’s also similar to last season when Alabama bounced back from a loss to Ole Miss and a near-upset by Arkansas to defeat A&M 59-0 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Only this week’s win seems even more significant given Ole Miss’ upset against Memphis.
That’s right, Alabama proved its rightful place atop the SEC power rankings the same week the Rebels suffered a historic loss. Granted, Memphis is the best its ever been and head coach Justin Fuente should be one of the nation’s top coaching candidates this offseason.
But still, the SEC’s top team should not lose to Memphis, let alone by a score of 37-24. Both of these factors are providing evidence that Alabama’s loss to Ole Miss was more of a fluke than being the inferior team.
Sure, the Rebels played an outstanding game, but let’s not act like luck didn’t play a crucial factor. It also helps that Ole Miss and Texas A&M will face one another next week.
Should the Aggies enjoy a bounce-back win against the Rebels it will help Alabama’s case as the SEC West’s top team.
Saturday’s game showcased the complete Tide team many expected to see in preseason. Derrick Henry looked like a legitimate Heisman candidate with 236 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 32 carries.
Jake Coker was the efficient game manager many expected to see in 2014 with 138 yards on 19-of-25 passing. And Alabama’s defense recorded four interceptions — three off Kyle Allen and one on Kyler Murray.
That’s right, the Tide defense managed to hold off one of the nation’s best passing attacks, holding A&M to 284 yards through the air.
Alabama continues its success against ranked opponents with Saturday’s win. Head coach Nick Saban credited his team for capturing a win in a hostile environment.
“You have to hand it to this team,” Saban said. “This is the second team ranked in the Top 10 that we’ve beaten on the road in some really tough places to play. I think you have to respect the competitive character of this team, my hats off to them.”
Alabama should have silenced the doubt it faced after its loss to Ole Miss several weeks ago. The Tide will face Tennessee next week before heading into a bye week prior to its biggest game, a Nov. 8 matchup at LSU.
Alabama should reclaim its spot as the top team in the SEC West and make another SEC Championship Game appearance. By now, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Tide is capable of improving and running the table after suffering an upset during the regular season.