Alabama had to overcome a six-point deficit in the final 6:24 to pull out a 80-74 victory. The Catamounts had a potential go-ahead 3-pointer in the air with 22 seconds remaining, but Rhett Harrellson’s attempt bounced away and the Crimson Tide was able to seal the win with six free throws, two by Shannon Hale and four by Levi Randolph. Alabama’s game-ending 19-7 run averted a disastrous loss and pushed UA to 2-0.
In the words of Lando Calrissian, "That was too close".
Since a loss Oct. 4 at Ole Miss, after a narrow escape at Arkansas, and despite blowouts of Texas A&M and Tennessee, there have been questions about Alabama, which wouldn’t be answered until they got to the latter portion of a backloaded schedule.
Then the Tide rallied in the final minute last week and won at LSU in overtime. Saturday, they grabbed control early against Mississippi State, them regained it late to put the Bulldogs away. Alabama is back, and loading for more.
No doubt this team has come a long way since October 4th but I'm still concerned how this team (or maybe Sims in particular) looks on the road. If we win (don't jinx it) the Iron Bowl, all our remaining three games will away from Tuscaloosa. So no pipping in fun music for the players (see below) and no 101k crazy Bama fans cheering on the team. Sims and company will have to do what they really haven't done all year, play well on the road against elite competition.
"Basically, what I mean by that is as a head coach when you have energy vampires on your team who never do what they're supposed to do and take all your energy as a coach," Saban said on Monday. "So you've got five guys who take all your energy and never get to enjoy the other 95 guys who do everything right. "We just don't seem to have those guys on our team, and we seem to have a lot more guys that sort of like each other, buy in, try to help each other, want to do what's best for the team. That's always more fun to deal with as a coach."
Forget about trying to figure out who the vampires were last year, let's instead focus on this year's team and how well they are playing together.
CeCe Jefferson, a five-star defensive end from Baker County High School in Glen St. Mary, Fla., returned to Tuscaloosa for the second time this season. Jefferson took an official visit to Alabama for the Texas A&M game, and visited on his own for the Tide’s win against Mississippi State. “It was great,” Jefferson said. “This game was just as exciting as the first one. The fans, the coaches, the players, everybody showed me love. I had a great time.”.
Damien Harris, a five-star running back from Madison Southern High School in Berea, Ky., was also in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. The nation’s No. 1 back, according to Rivals.com, has high interest in the Crimson Tide. This appears a very tight battle between Alabama, Kentucky and Ohio State. Harris will return to Tuscaloosa for an official visit in two weeks.
On Saturday, the Crimson Tide thoroughly defeated the top-ranked team in the country, the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The final score was 25-20, but if we're being honest with ourselves, it never really felt that close. The Tide were better offensively, and they were suffocating defensively against an MSU team that had shown few weaknesses all season up to this point; when the Tide needed a crucial drive in fourth quarter, they relied on a flawed but exciting fifth-year senior quarterback named Blake Sims to make a couple of crucial third-down conversions with his feet.
This season commenced with the idea that perhaps we had reached the expiration date on the Alabama dynasty. It began with the notion that Saban, perhaps reaching some desperate end after a bad loss to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, had made a flailing grasp at continued relevance by hiring perpetual disaster Lane Kiffin as his offensive coordinator. This season, with the Tide breaking in an inexperienced quarterback, was potentially the year that they would recede into the middle of the pack in the loaded SEC West. (When they crept past Arkansas 14-13, Saban actually got pissed about the expectations that had been set because of his own rigorousness.)
For a short time, this was the year of Mississippi, and that storyline was fun little diversion from reality for a while, but here we are again, back where we've been for each of the past five seasons or so: Alabama is clearly the best football team in America.
I've read quite a few post game write-ups and few actually made the note that the game wasn't as close as the final score indicated. So, good on you Rolling Stone, a magazine that covers music, not sports. And bad on you sports writers whose job it is to, you know, cover sports.
What gets lost in the 25-20 final score is that MSU's total offensive yards are skewed by the fact 164 of their yards came on the final three drives, after Alabama had amassed a 19-6 lead and gone into prevent mode. That's not meant to take away from MSU's effort and lack of quit, but Alabama was giving them everything underneath and Bully was willing to take those yards.
1. Alabama Is Nick Saban really the only coach in the SEC West who knows how to properly manage the clock late in the game?
2. Mississippi State Considered keeping them at No. 1 for about three minutes and three seconds.
TSK, what you did there, I see it.
"I was sitting on the edge of my seat," tight end Brian Vogler said. "Any time you can talk to somebody like that, you're completely locked in to everything that's going on, every word that's coming out of his mouth. And honestly, once he got done talking, I wanted to run through a brick wall."
If you haven't seen Lone Survivor or read the book, go do both ASAP.
"We kind of remixed it, call it 'No Fly Zone,'" safety Nick Perry said. "So in our head, every time they play that, No Fly Zone, it's like this song is definitely for us." The instrumental beginning of a C-Murder/Snoop Dogg song was the selection when the Alabama defense would take the field before a possession. A video shot from the crowd shows the reaction of the bench and players taking the field. The Ying Yang Twins' "Stand up and get crunk" was another favorite. Players are jumping around, waving to the crowd in a scene that didn't exist in previous seasons.
Though Alabama doesn't have a D.J. like the one it brought in last season for basketball games, the in-house playlist has been noticeably louder in recent weeks. The crowd, particularly the younger generations, responded just like the players. "Certain things make you play different," safety Landon Collins said Saturday. "Music did that a little bit."
I'll listen to whatever the players want to listen to on constant loop if it makes them play like they did this past Saturday.
Around the SEC
We can still do one of the things we love most, though: spoil Alabama's season. I seem to remember a few years where we came into the Iron Bowl with nothing else - while still having a pretty danged good football team - and did just that.
If you're expecting Auburn to simply roll over and play dead in a few weeks, you obviously haven't watched many Iron Bowls over the last half century.
And GatorZone's official release of the news dodges "fired" altogether, opting for "steps down." What's the difference? Millions of dollars, possibly. Muschamp being fired (without cause) would put Florida on the hook for the full terms of his contract, while Muschamp resigning — even if resigning is just the polite term for being asked to go and agreeing — might get Florida some wiggle room in negotiating terms of his departure.
With Muschamp under contract through 2016, and due over $3 million per year, that's a critically important distinction to make. And it's not like saving Florida some money helps Florida alone: Muschamp leaving some of that cash on the table while making his exit relatively painless will almost certainly make him a more appealing hire elsewhere — it shows he can play well with an athletic department, and that the job is more important to him than the compensation.
I'm hearing that Marshall's head coach Doc Holiday is being seriously considered.
Good for Tennessee. We don't know how quickly the investigation is unfolding here or what it's found, so this might not be quite as forward-leaning as it seems -- but right now, it marks a refreshing contrast to how some other schools have handled reports of this nature.As Rocky Top Talk puts it: [H]andling assault cases the right way is more important than winning football games. Butch Jones and the Tennessee administration are sending the right message to its players and fans by acting quickly and taking this very seriously.
Make it stop..