Nick Saban has been in Tuscaloosa long enough to know that anytime you get a win at Jordan-Hare Stadium, you take it and run. Crazy things happen in the Iron Bowl at Auburn, but as Saban said on the field after the game. “This is the first time I can remember it going in our favor.”
Ten years later, this is the football god’s repayment for the pain of the “Kick Six”, but through the elation, there is a sense of concern around the Crimson Tide with Georgia and the SEC Championship game on deck next week. Nick Saban said something else in his postgame interview that had an ominous tone to it.
“I’ve always had a theory; when you don’t play well and you win, that might not be a good thing.”
Sometimes that can be true, and who am I to correct a six-time national champion, but Alabama did play well. Certainly well, enough to not need a miracle from Milroe on fourth and goal from the 31-yard line to beat a 6-5 Auburn team.
Sure, the defense had a few busts that led to big plays, and the offense stalled out in the red zone some, but Alabama dominated this game. The Crimson Tide gained 451 yards and averaged 6.6 yards per play on offense, while only allowing 337 yards and 5.7 yards per play. Saban’s team had 21 first down to Auburn’s 18 and both teams punted five times.
Typically the only thing that can level out a game like that is turnovers, but Alabama didn’t have any. Auburn turned the ball over three times with two interceptions from Payton Thorne and a muffed punt that gave Alabama and Milroe a chance to put on his superhero cape and throw the winning touchdown pass.
Alabama is a 4.5-point underdog to Georgia in the SEC championship game, and nothing about this performance should change that.
Jalen Milroe is the biggest reason for Alabama’s resurgence and once again he was Alabama’s best player. He completed 16 of his 24 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns, that’s an average of 10.8 yards per attempt. He also ran for 107 yards on 18 carries despite Auburn employing a dedicated quarterback spy for most of the second half.
After the game, Milroe was ready to give his Heisman trophy acceptance speech.
While that might be a bit of a stretch, Milroe is still playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the country. If he continues to play that way, then Alabama can beat anyone, even Georgia. Strange things happen in Jordan-Hare, but this game should not have anyone’s confidence in this team wavering.
Alabama will beat Georgia in the SEC championship game a week from today, will get into the College Football Playoff as a one-loss SEC champ, and this play could even be the start of the championship video after three more wins.