Every once and a while you face one of those games that you consider a “must win” game. But, why is it a “must win?” Because if you lose it will set your program back . Since Saban has been at Bama I think we have had two games that were must win games.
The first was the 2009 opener vs. Va Tech (some of you all even think it was our biggest opener under Saban and it may well have been.) In the 2008 season we had established ourselves as a national power. A team that would contend year in and year out for the NC. We lost the SEC to UF, but that was not a set back. Then we lost to Utah...that was a small set back. Then we faced Va Tech in the opener. Lose that game and it is 3 in row, and we are seen not as a NC contender, but as a pretender. We had to win the game and we did.
In 2010 we faced a similar scene in the Cap One Bowl of 2011. After a 2009 campaign in which we were called a dynasty we faltered in 2010. It would have been bad enough to lose to SC & LSU, but the Auburn game was a tragedy. Suddenly we were no longer an every year contender, we were just a team that got a lot of lucky breaks in 2009. We had to turn it around after AU and we could not wait until 9 months had gone by. That bowl win, especially the way it came, did actually give the program a much needed boost and it carried over into 2011.
Now we face the worse AU team of our life time and everyone is basically conceding the game to us. We are a 200pt. favorite. I heard UGA was even practicing for us this week. And, ND is sending scouts to the game. And, to be honest a win should be had with some ease.
But I do think we need to consider that not only is this AU, not only do we owe them for 2010, this is a game that we “must win.” I would go so far to say that neither UGA or Notre Dame are must wins. But this game is a must win.
Consider what happens if we were to lose? First, the embarrassment for Bama fans would be of epic proportions. You think “Honk if You Sacked Brodie” or for the old guys like me “Punt Bama Punt” were bad, you haven’t seen bad if we blow this game. Secondly, we may have breathed new life into our most hated opponent. Do not underestimate what a win would do for this program in a shambles. Third, we will do immense damage to our teams psyche. I remember the damage to the team psyche after the 2000 UCLA game. It will be that times 10. Fourth, I fear the bowl game, wherever we go, would end up being a disaster. True we may bounce back, more than likely we will do a lot of finger pointing. Finally, in the eyes of the voter and sports writers Alabama will be seen as having choked to such an extent that in the future Nick Saban’s coaching skills will be called into question. This will hurt recruiting.
So I think we will win this game, but there is a lot at stake. We simply must win and advance to ATL. After that of course we want to win and should win... but if we lose to UGA or even ND it does not set the program back. A lose to AU will sting like no loss any of us have every experienced.
And again, in spite of the records, I will not be really at ease until we have the game well in hand. Footballs are not round and they do bounce in weird ways, like the Ingram fumble in 2010. As bad as AU is, and as bad as their coach is, they still have a few good athletes on the team. I hate to say it but stranger things have happened.
So, I’m getting real nervous. Way more nervous than I was before Texas or LSU in the dome. This win is that important.