Alabama Football: In Saban era, Fresno State ‘game twos’ are common


Alabama football fans are not fully satisfied with the Fresno State win. Discard the angst by looking at other game twos in the Saban-Alabama football era.

Week two was wondrous for Alabama football fans. The Tide won while Auburn, Ohio State and Notre Dame lost. That’s a good weekend in any college football season.

Still, Alabama football fans have doubts about some position groups for the 2017 team. Are all the pieces in place to make another championship run? Before commenting on that valid question, let’s take a few steps (years actually) back into the Saban-Alabama dynasty. Many game twos left Alabama football fans with doubts.

Not every year is comparative but most have a big non-conference opener against a tough foe, followed by the second game against weaker opposition. Looking back at the recent history we can see 2017 is very similar to 2008, 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2016.

2008 Season

In the first year that began the current Crimson Tide dynasty, Alabama football opened the season with Clemson. The Tide destroyed Clemson 34-10 in Atlanta basically ending the coaching career of Tommy Bowden.

Game two was Tulane in Tuscaloosa. The Tide won but it was not pretty. The halftime score was 13-3 thanks to Javier Arenas and Chris Rogers and two special teams touchdowns. Alabama football added a Mark Ingram touchdown in the third quarter and gave up 318 yards to the Green Wave in the game.

2009 Season

Again in Atlanta,  Alabama football won tough opener 34 -24 over Virginia Tech. The second game, in Tuscaloosa, was Florida International coached by Mario Cristobal.

The Tide won 40-14 but only led 20-14 at halftime. Future Indianapolis Colts player, T.Y. Hilton caught five passes and torched the Tide with a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

2012 Season

Alabama football opened the season in Arlington, TX and dominated Michigan 41-14, altering the coaching career of Brady Hoke. The second game was Western Kentucky (WKU)  in Tuscaloosa.

The Tide beat the Hilltoppers 35-0 but it was far from a work of art. The vaunted Tide rushing attack coughed up a fumble to WKU and dredged out a meager 103 yards from 31 carries.

2015 Season

Again in Arlington, TX, Alabama football opened with a convincing 35-17 win over Wisconsin. The second game was Middle Tennessee State (MTSU) in Tuscaloosa.

The Tide won 37-10 but gave up 275 yards to the Sun Belt team. Worse, The Tide had two turnovers and five penalties in an overall sloppy game.

2016 Season

Last season, Alabama football opened by demolishing USC 52-6. Game two was Western Kentucky again in Tuscaloosa.

While the Tide won 38-10 it was another less than stellar performance. Alabama had a turnover and 12 penalties for 84 yards.

2017 Season

Add 2017 to the list of games when Nick Saban was not satisfied with all areas of his team’s performance. When you do that, also remember the six games fit well into Saban’s annual plan. Each of the seasons the Tide had lessons to learn after a big win.

Every one of the six seasons, Alabama football was not a complete team in the second game of the season. We believe Nick Saban is willing, maybe even anxious to use these games to teach. Alabama football can afford to be a work in progress for a few more weeks.

There is time for the offensive line push and pass protection to improve. There is time for young outside linebackers to get better. There is time for Josh Jacobs, Rashaan Evans and Anfernee Jennings to heal.

Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News said it well, stating the Tide is still in the classroom.

"There is the football team that Alabama, at the moment, actually is. There is the football team that Alabama, for a number of reasons, is expected to be."

We agree with Cecil’s conclusion,

"Saban seemed almost professorial after the game, glad to have a day to perform some experiments, eager to use the results as teachable moments. That’s where Alabama is at the moment — still in the classroom. There’s no reason to think that they should look like graduates yet."

What about the rest of 2017?

Cast aside any angst Crimson Tide fans. In two 2017 games, Alabama football has completed 66.7 percent of its passes, rushed for an average of 5.9 yards-per-carry, and turned the ball over zero times. The defense has allowed 8.5 points per game. If those stats don’t describe Nick Saban designed football, nothing does.

Next: The 50 Best Alabama football players ever!

Check in with us daily as we follow the growth and development of the 2017 team. Game three in the 2017 schedule against Colorado State will be Saturday at 6:00 PM in Bryant-Denny.