In 2008, Nick Saban announced to the world that Alabama was back to being a team to be reckoned with. One year later, he took the Tide on an undefeated season and their first National Championship since 1992. Alabama was at the top of college football, but the jury was still out, though, on whether they were a flash in the pan or a legitimate contender for sustained success.
With almost the entirety of the 2009 roster returning, including Heisman winner Mark Ingram and superstar receiver Julio Jones, the expectations were high for the Tide in 2010.
Unfortunately, an early loss to South Carolina knocked the season off track before back-to-back losses to LSU and
Auburn Cam Newton put Alabama squarely in the “disappointment” category.
This was the first of many times the national media buried the Tide as a failing dynasty.... But it was also the most legitimate time to predict that. Alabama clearly overestimated their own talent and let visions of past success get in the way of present performance, leading to Nick Saban’s only 3-loss season since 2007.
This led to the Tide being relegated to the Capital One Bowl, which wound up being a tougher matchup than expected when the 11-1 Michigan State Spartans wound up locked out of the BCS bowls due to Wisconsin and Ohio State also both being 11-1 and having a bigger name brand.
The Spartans, led by future NFL stars Kirk Cousins and Le’Veon Bell and one of the top defensive units in the nation, came in ranked as the #7 team in the nation and looked to defeat a listing SEC team and prove they should have been picked ahead of their other Big 10 mates for the BCS bowl games.
Instead, this happened:
Alabama’s offense was methodical, efficient, and ever-advancing while the defense (particularly the pass rush) was so utterly dominant that Kirk Cousins was knocked out of the game... and then his backup was too.
It was a hard-hitting display of pent up anger from the Tide, and everyone on the team got involved with trying to send every green jersey they could find into the stands on every play. Even QB Greg McElroy pancake blocked a Spartan defender on an end-around touchdown from Julio Jones.
Alabama led 49-0 late into the 4th quarter when the back up defense wound up missing a few tackles down the sideline to allow the Spartans their only score of the game.
It was a performance so dominant that Alabama fans left knowing that, in 2011, the Crimson Tide would be back to contending. A decade later, and they still haven’t stopped.