Opinion: Alabama Has A Chance To Make History


Blake Sims and the Crimson Tide made history last night, and that is no exaggeration.

History is a word that gets tossed around casually in college football. The 24-hour sports channels would have us believe that every win, every play and every moment is historic, if only to keep us glued to their broadcasts. Games featuring two sub-.500 teams are hyped up as a clash of the ages in order to sell advertising spots and garner ratings.

An entire generation of players have been brought up to believe that they are all destined for greatness. This surely makes losses much harder to take, as they go counter to the script each young man has written for himself since his sandlot days. As the character Syndrome says in The Incredibles, “If everyone’s super, no one is.”

The overblown usage of the word ‘history’ in college football takes away from the truly historic moments in the sport: Sam ‘Bam’ Cunningham’s USC Trojans whipping of Alabama that helped bring integration to Southern football. Doug Flutie’s miracle Hail Mary to defeat Miami. Historic wins by Bryant, and Paterno, and Robinson.

With that said, historic is the only way to describe what the rivalry between Alabama and LSU has become under Nick Saban and Les Miles.

The two teams have given fans enough Game of the Century matchups in the last half decade to last a lifetime. The very nature of this series has changed college football, as their rematch for 2012 BCS National Championship was the impetus to create a College Football Playoff that would ensure an all-SEC title game never happened again.

Saturday night’s amazing 20-13 Alabama win in overtime just added to the historic tapestry of this series.

Historic is the only way to describe what the rivalry between Alabama and LSU has become under Nick Saban and Les Miles. The two teams have given fans enough Game of the Century matchups in the last half decade to last a lifetime.

Alabama has been incredible at home and positively mediocre on the road this season. The Tide’s dualistic nature was in full display in Baton Rouge, as a positively pedestrian offense sputtered and stumbled all game long. A nonexistent running game and an aggressively inept passing game kept the score closer than it likely would have been otherwise.

On the other side of the ball, Alabama’s defense had the Sisyphean task of stopping LSU again and again only to have to march back onto the field after each failed offensive effort. The bayou boulder eventually won out, and LSU kicked a field goal to take a 13-10 lead with less than a minute to play.

Alabama fans saw the chance at a championship run vanish in the Louisiana night.

Blake Sims saw a chance to make history.

“When we were in the huddle, I said ‘Guys, this is the game,'” Sims said. “We can make history. We can sit down in December and watch other teams perform and get to the championship game, or we can do what we got to do.”

Sims and Alabama did what they had to do.

The fifth-year senior led his team on a nine-play, 55-yard drive that featured two passes to tight end OJ Howard, one each to Christion Jones and DeAndrew White, and none to Amari Cooper, who had already broken Alabama’s single-season receiving yardage record. Sims also scrambled for a drive saving first down that recalled Greg McElroy’s balletic hop in the 2009 SEC Championship game.

Alabama tied the game, sending another game with LSU into overtime.

In overtime, fans who were calling for Lane Kiffin’s firing saw him call a masterful series capped by a six-yard pass to White for a touchdown. The Crimson Tide defense stepped up once again, forcing four consecutive incomplete passes by Anthony Jennings to end the game.

Alabama’s path forward is clear. A three-game home stand begins with the arrival of top-ranked Mississippi State next Saturday. Two weeks later Auburn comes to town. Wins against both put Alabama in the SEC Championship game and in all likelihood the College Football Playoff.

This Alabama team has overachieved despite fans’ lofty expectations. The Tide sit at 8-1, but could very easily have been 6-3 at the end of the night. They could still lose two more games. But there is a growing sense of inevitability around this team that last night did nothing to dispel.

In a world where we pretend everything is historic, this Alabama team truly has a chance to make history.