If you were to have asked me that question last January I would have said no way. The 2008 opening game against then #9 Clemson was the biggest opening game in the Saban era because in a way it was the rebirth of the program at Alabama. Since that Clemson game we have gone 48-6 and have undoubtedly been the most dominant team in CFB.
However, I’m not sure that game was as big as this Saturdays game and here is why. Expectations going into Clemson were not that high. Had we lost that game it would not have been a signal that Bama was faltering because at that time Bama was just an average team. We were the underdog in the game and to be honest most of the pregame publicity was on Clemson and their two great RBs.
But now the focus is clearly on Alabama and the whole country is waiting to see if we can still dominate an 11 win team without Upshaw, Hightower, Richardson, Barron, etc. Conventional wisdom says you can not sustain the level at which we played in 2011 in the 85 scholarship era. Conventional wisdom says you can not repeat as NC in the BCS era. Conventional wisdom says you can not keep 20 year old kids motivated after they have won the NC.
So, now we are going to see. Following the 09 NC Sports Illustrated said we were a dynasty. Well, 1 NC does not make anyone a dynasty, even Auburn can luck up and win 1. But 2 in 3 years, that gets people’s attention. 3 in 4 years and you are a dynasty. Most non Bama fans do not think it can be done and they sure don’t want it to done by Alabama. So we will see.
By nature I am a pessimistic person. Even when we are playing Ole Miss I see ways I think we could lose. But I have to tell you I think we just might be able to do the unthinkable: win a NC, lose the core of the team to the NFL, reload, and win it again.
And that is why I think this is the biggest opening game in the Saban era. Win on Sat. and we are on our way. It will be a tough road for sure. But nail this one down and the road gets a lot easier. Lose this game and the people who think you can’t repeat, can’t stay on top, can’t reload this fast will seem to be right. You could lose Sat and still repeat, but it would be very unlikely. In my mind lose on Sat and we are then playing for the SEC and the Sugar Bowl.
I’d like to know what some of yall are thinking about the level of importance of this game.