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Alabama’s defense did pretty well in 2020!

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They took a lot of flak, but it’s hard to argue with the end results.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 11 CFP National Championship - Alabama v Ohio State Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

No one would confuse the 2020 Alabama defense with the units early in Nick Saban’s tenure that snuffed the life out of opposing offenses. But the Tide’s much-maligned defense ended up having a pretty solid year.

Alabama played 13 Power 5 opponents. The defense held 11 of those 13 teams below their scoring average. Only Ole Miss and Florida managed to score more than their season average.

  • Missouri: 19 (26.7)
  • Texas A&M: 24 (32.6)
  • Ole Miss: 48 (39.2)
  • Georgia: 24 (32.3)
  • Tennessee: 17 (21.5)
  • Mississippi State: 0 (21.4)
  • Kentucky: 3 (21.8)
  • Auburn: 13 (25.1)
  • LSU: 17 (32.0)
  • Arkansas: 3 (25.7)
  • Florida: 46 (39.8)
  • Notre Dame: 14 (33.4)
  • Ohio State: 24 (41.0)

Alabama ended up finishing #13 in scoring defense. Among teams that played at least 10 games, Alabama finished #5. Among teams that only played P5 opponents, Alabama finished #4.

Of course, none of this proves that this defense was some amazing elite unit. The expectations are that a team like Alabama would hold most opponents under their average, and there would be something very wrong if that weren’t the case.

In 2019, for example, Alabama held 10 of their 13 opponents under their scoring average. They also played two G5 teams and one FCS team, and many of their opponents scored within a couple points of their average.

There’s something to be said for reminding people that this year’s squad largely held their opponents, all P5 teams, well below their normal scores. As mentioned in the headline: that’s pretty good.