Tag: Alabama

WATCH: Nick Saban gets down to “The Electric Slide”

“He dances like a man on a two-game losing streak.”

Over the weekend, while the rest of us were getting geared up for the NFL Divisional Championship games, Nick Saban was getting his, um, groove on.

The Alabama head coach hosted some incoming recruits and parents at his home, and one of his new players (God bless you, Alex Evans) caught Saban doing “The Electric Slide.”

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Alabama vs Oklahoma Gameday Style and Preview

Alabama and Oklahoma could not be heading into the Sugar Bowl from further ends of the football field.

Who will ever forget perhaps the biggest (and most eruptively entertaining) college football upset of all time? Auburn’s last-play-of-game, single-score defeat of Alabama during this year’s Iron Bowl will be replayed until I’m old and gray and can no longer remember the capital of Alabama. On the other hand, Oklahoma handed their biggest rival Oklahoma State a major upset (33-24) during their yearly match up.

And even though OU (#11) came out in a big way against their in-state rival, the Sooners are still a huge underdog come Thursday night. In fact, VegasInsider.com has AL (#3) as a strong 16-point favorite.

But before anyone writes off this bowl game as yet another post-season blowout, let’s not forget about Oklahoma’s explosive rushing attack. Led by RB Brennan Clay, who has 900+ yards and five touchdowns, the Sooners averaged over 230 yards per game this season. Despite losing Damien Williams in November, the Sooners pose a massive threat on the ground. And even though Oklahoma’s QB Trevor Knight (a redshirt freshman) was not a Heisman candidate like Alabama’s AJ McCarron, he did average over 80 rushing yards in the final three games of the season. Bear in mind he did this while splitting snaps with OU’s other QB, junior Blake Bell.

The Alabama Crimson Tide might just be college football’s most complete team. And all of it starts with their star QB, AJ McCarron. McCarron, who holds three school records (total number of wins, passing yards, and passing touchdowns), passed for 2,600+ yards, 26 TDs, and only five interceptions this past season. He’s smart, effective, and out to complete his college football legacy. And although he doesn’t have much else to prove at this level, McCarron will be playing to prove that he’s ready for the next step – the NFL step.

I’m not sure how either team will come out for this game. It’s the first time in three years that Alabama isn’t playing in “the big one,” and OU has more momentum from the regular season than the Crimson Tide. Despite all of this, I still think it’ll be tough for the Sooners to keep up with Alabama for the entire 60 minutes.
Tune into ESPN on Thursday, January 2, at 8:30pm EST, to watch the 80th Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Alabama Casual

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Oklahoma Casual

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Oklahoma Dressy

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The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

Nick Saban

Well that was ugly.

Notre Dame’s vaunted defense was no match for the onslaught that is the Crimson Tide as Alabama steamrolled the Fighting Irish 42-14 to capture its third BCS title in four years.

Alabama drove right down the field on its opening drive and never looked back. It was 14-0 after one quarter and 28-0 at half. Notre Dame trailed 35-0 before finally getting on the board and ending Alabama’s incredible 108 minute-long BCS title game shutout streak.

For the second straight year, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron came up big when it mattered most. Last year’s title game MVP was 20-of-28 for 264 yards and 4 touchdowns. Running back Eddie Lacy was named the game’s offensive MVP after rushing for 140 yards on 20 carries with both a rushing and receiving touchdown.

The scariest part about Alabama’s display of dominance? Next year’s team could be even better.

 McCarron is coming back and is only a junior. Lacy is leaving, but TJ Yeldon, who also topped 100 yards rushing in the game, will return along with freshman receiving sensation Amari Cooper. The Tide will lose a plethora of talent to the NFL, but under Nick Saban, Alabama simply reloads.

 So which teams, if any, can dethrone Alabama?

The SEC

Many people are loath to admit it, but the SEC is the finest conference in football. Say what you will, but seven straight titles are seven straight titles. The SEC has beaten champions from the Pac-12, Big 12, and Big 10. They even got tired of beating everyone else last year, so the conference placed two teams in the title game. If anyone is going to take down Alabama, the SEC is a good place to start.

The Crimson Tide lost one game this season, a 29-24 thriller to SEC newcomer Texas A&M and Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. After pummeling Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, the Aggies are sure to be a top-5 team entering next season. Manziel is only a freshman, so it’s staggering to imagine how good he could become. The only teams to beat Alabama in recent memory have been spread teams with mobile quarterbacks, and Manziel fits the bill. Plus, Alabama has to go to College Station next year.

LSU was the only team to beat Alabama last season, and the Tigers nearly pulled it off again this year. McCarron engineered a game-winning drive with time running out to allow the Tide to leave Death Valley with a 21-17 victory. LSU has a defense on par with Alabama’s, and quarterback Zach Mettenberger played his best game against the Tide.

Georgia was a tipped pass away from beating Alabama in the SEC championship game and playing for a national title. Star quarterback Aaron Murray is returning for his senior season, and talented freshman running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall should be better than ever.

Florida was #4 in the BCS rankings going into bowl season and boasts a ferocious defense. South Carolina is a perennial top-10 contender and has the top defender in the country in Jadeveon Clowney.

Will Anyone End the Reign of Terror?

If you’re one of the SEC-weary people hoping someone, ANYONE, outside of the south will win, then these teams offer you the best hope.

Louisville won the Big East and finished the year with an 11-2 record, earning a berth in the Sugar Bowl against Florida. The game was universally expected to be a mismatch, and it was, except the Gators proved to be no match for Teddy Bridgewater and Co. Lousiville’s sophomore quarterback extraordinaire led the Cards to a 33-23 beatdown of the heavily-favored Gators. The momentum from that win will likely propel the Cardinals to a top-10 preseason ranking. If Bridgewater can stay healthy, Louisville will have a good shot at running the table. He’s got the ability to shred Alabama’s defense.

Oregon ended up 12-1 after thrashing Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl but scored an even bigger victory when head coach Chip Kelly turned down overtures from the NFL to remain in Eugene. Other than Stanford, nobody came within 11 points of the Ducks. Kenjon Barner will be departing, but quarterback Marcus Mariota and all-everything phenom De’Anthony Thomas will be back to power one of the country’s most prolific and potent offenses. Few teams, if any, can match Oregon’s speed, and a matchup with Alabama is one that has most college football fans salivating.

Oregon-Alabama would have happened this year if it wasn’t for one team: Stanford. A throwback oddity in a spread-happy conference, the powerful Cardinal are tough and physical. Their front seven was the only unit that was able to slow down the Ducks this year. Stanford’s two losses came by a combined 11 points, and one was a controversial overtime defeat to Notre Dame. Stanford loses star running back Stepfan Taylor, but quarterback Kevin Hogan is only a freshman and will get better. One has to wonder if the Cardinal has enough athleticism to hang with Alabama, but they have gone toe-to-toe with Oregon and USC the past few years.

Yes, Notre Dame just got embarrassed on national television by Alabama. And yes, the Irish lose standout linebacker Manti Te’o and talented tight end Tyler Eifert. However, Notre Dame is ahead of schedule. They were unranked to start this season; the Irish weren’t supposed to be title contenders for another year or two. They are only going to get better—Coach Brian Kelly has put together the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class according to Rivals.com. Quarterback Everett Golson steadily improved over the course of his first year as a starter and will get better. If the offense can get on par with the defense, watch out.

Ohio State finished the season as the only unbeaten team in the land but was ineligible for postseason play due to NCAA sanctions. Things were supposed to improve under new coach Urban Meyer, but they weren’t supposed to happen this quickly. The Buckeyes have a phenomenal dual-threat quarterback in sophomore Braxton Miller, and with another offseason under Meyer under their belt should be favored to win the Big 10. Meyer won two national titles at Florida and knows how to beat SEC teams.

Only time will tell if any of these teams can take the next step and defeat the Tide, but if this season is any indication, it’s going to be fun to watch.

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Clash of the Titans: 2013 BCS Championship Preview

 

Notre Dame Defense

Well folks, it’s finally here.

The last 60 minutes of college football for the 2012 season. One last game to determine who will be crowned national champions, and we couldn’t have asked for a better matchup.

#1 Notre Dame (12-0) vs. #2 Alabama (12-1)

Two of the sport’s most storied programs square off in this year’s national title game. The second-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide are seeking their third national championship in four years while the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame are looking for end a 24-year drought and claim their first title since 1988.

Prior to the start of the season, many people expected Alabama to be here. The Tide were fresh off their second title in three years and returned sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron after his breakout performance in the BCS championship game victory over LSU. Despite losing a plethora of talent to the NFL, Alabama simply reloaded and once again boasted one of the best defenses in the land.

The Tide were rolling along until being upset by Heisman winner Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M, seemingly out of the race until both Kansas State and Oregon lost on the same day, vaulting Alabama back into the top two of the BCS standings.

Unlike Alabama, nobody expected the Irish to be here. Sure, Notre Dame was an improved team with some talent, but an undefeated season and national title game appearance? No way.

In fact, most college football pundits believed the days of Notre Dame contending for national championships were over. The school’s stringent academic requirements were viewed as too difficult to attract top-tier recruits, and the aura of the Fighting Irish had been diminished as other schools rose to prominence.

However, Notre Dame surprised everyone by basically becoming Alabama. Head coach Brian Kelly is known for his powerful offense, but this year’s Irish team is carried by its dominant defense. Led by Heisman runner-up Manti Te’o, the Irish are tops in the nation in scoring defense, yielding a miniscule 10.3 points per game.

Keys to the Game

Two major factors will determine the outcome of this game: whoever wins the battle up front between Alabama’s stellar offensive line and Notre Dame’s stout front seven, and whether or not Everett Golson and the Irish offense can move the ball of Alabama’s vaunted defense.

Alabama’s offensive line is the best in the nation, and the unit is arguably the main reason for the Tide’s offensive prowess. Center Barrett Jones and his comrades pave for the way for a powerful ground attack that features two 1,000-yard running backs who combined for 27 touchdowns. The Tide average nearly 40 points a game.

They may have met their match, though. Notre Dame’s front seven might be the best in the land. Te’o gets most of the publicity—as well he should considering his 103 tackles, 7 interceptions, and multitude of awards and accolades—but he’s not alone. End Stephon Tuitt has 12 sacks and 13 tackles for loss, and linebacker Prince Shembo chipped in another 7.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. Mammoth nose tackle Louis Nix anchors the middle of the line and ties up opposing blockers, allowing Te’o the room to roam and make plays.

If Alabama’s line can win that battle and open up holes against the Irish front, the Tide will win this game. If Notre Dame’s defense can hold up against the Alabama ground game, it will go a long way towards an Irish victory.

On the flip side, Notre Dame has to find a way to generate some offense against one of the best defenses in America. Golson has steadily improved over the past several games, but he has yet to face a defense like Alabama’s. The Tide are second in scoring defense, behind Notre Dame, at 10.7 points a game and lead the nation in total defense, surrendering a measly 246 yards per contest.

The Tide are going to try and take away the Irish rushing game and force Golson to beat them through the air. However, the Tide have been vulnerable to mobile quarterbacks. If Golson can make some plays through the air and with his legs, Notre Dame has a good shot of pulling off the upset. If not, then Alabama will win.

The Verdict

This should be a close, hard-fought game with little to no scoring. These are the two best defenses in the country, so yards and points will be at a premium.

On paper, Alabama has the edge. Their defense is about as good as Notre Dame’s while their offense is far superior to that of the Irish. Common sense dictates that while both teams will struggle to move the ball, Alabama will have a little more success. If Notre Dame can’t sustain drives, then its defense will get tired and wear down after getting continually bludgeoned by that tremendous Alabama offensive line.

However, if things went according to paper, Notre Dame wouldn’t even be here. The Irish have that “team of destiny” feel to them. They just refuse to lose.

Furthermore, Notre Dame isn’t like any other opponent a SEC team has faced in the national title game. The Irish aren’t a flashy offensive team like Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Oregon were. They rely on their SEC-caliber defense. They aren’t going to be cocky and complacent like LSU because they haven’t beaten Alabama once already and spent the weeks leading up to the game hearing about how good they are. Te’o is going to have his teammates focused and determined.

Notre Dame finds a way to cap off its dream season with the school’s first national title since 1988.

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