Well that was not nearly as much fun as it was supposed to be, was it? We knew that this team was not the most gifted Alabama team of the century, but it had demonstrated something that has been missing over the past few years – a resiliency and unwillingness to give up AND this was a necessity because of the second tendency of this team to give up heart-ripping turnovers at the absolute worst times. With the exception of the Ole Miss game, they were able to overcome the careless, sloppy play. But when it happened again yesterday, they weren’t. And when you play carelessly, you should lose. And that’s what happened.
College football is a highly emotional, psychological game. Your playing teenagers (or just-out-of-the-teen-years players) and they are not psychologically stable (another way of saying “immature”). Little things, said or done, sometimes can make big differences in the play of a team. So, think of the situation:
Ohio State had the fact that they were facing THE SEC’s BEST TEAM shoved down their throats all month – that, along with the fact that they had NO CHANCE to win the game.
They hear (ALL MONTH) about how their coach was humiliated by Alabama’s coach in their last meeting (AND HOW IT’S BOUND TO HAPPEN AGAIN).
They hear about how slow, overrated, and inferior their conference is when compared to the SEC.
In short, they’ve been told every day that in spite of the fact they’ve had a very nice season, it’s going to end when they play Alabama. They. Can’t. Win.
But then Michigan State (a team they defeated) beats Baylor in the Cotton Bowl. And then, in the Restaurant Bowl, Wisconsin (a team they DESTROYED) beats Awbarn (the mighty SEC team that had Alabama by 12 points in the 3rd quarter!). Urban Meyer points it out. The team listens. And they get more and more confident and angry over the disrespect they’re receiving.
Then the game starts and they make Bama go three and out. THEN they get a long run and even though they have to settle for a field goal – all of a sudden they realize, “Hey, this team has players just like us. We can make plays. They can be beat.”
If the Tide had been able to score one more TD after getting ahead 21-6 (to make the score 28-6) – the ending of this game might have been different. Not that they had been playing all that well up to this point. The main reason they had the lead was because of Buckeye turnovers. But a TD drive at that point in the 2nd quarter would have been a big blow to the Ohio St psyche.
Instead, they were stopped again and the Buckeyes went on a 28-0 run (2 TDs before the end of the half and 2 in the 3rd quarter, before the Tide could score in response). That, coupled with the two turnovers from Blake Sims (one interception returned for a TD and another coming after the Tide took over on the Ohio St. 23 yard line with the score 34-28) and the last defensive breakdown of the night (making the score 42-28), made the deficit too much to overcome. And the final interception on the 50-yard Hail Mary was a fitting end to the Tide’s season.
Looking back, this team accomplished far more than anybody thought was possible. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Blake Sims was obviously limited as a starting QB. The defensive line was young, the defensive secondary was not good enough – and there were questions about the offensive line. All these issues ended up being very real factors – not only in the two losses but in nearly every other game during the season. But this team hung together – Coach Saban has said that they were the best team (chemistry-wise) that he’s ever had and that pushed them to a 11-1 regular season, a SEC championship, and a place in the first ever College Football Playoff. Not bad.
But, you know us, when you don’t win a National Championship it’s like getting the hot fudge without the ice cream. It’s good. But it ain’t near-bout as good as it could have been! SEC Championship is nice. Really great. But oh-boy, to be this close to another Natty-champ, it hurts. Hurts bad.
But whaddayasay boyz? We hear that we’re scheduled to open the 2015 season next September in Big D against some Badgers from Wisconsin. Hey man! Don’t let it get you down. Another title chase begins in just nine short months.
And we’ll be ready.