Teams playing Alabama on the road rarely end up on top
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Sutton Smith
Alabama head coach Nick Saban is often referred to by fans, players, coaches and even the media as the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). You can point to many statistics including his seven National Championships, eight conference titles, nine division titles, four Heisman Trophy winners or his overall record of 195-28 to prove that point.
It takes a valiant effort to beat a Saban coached Alabama team on the road. In the few times it happens, coverage and news of the game sweeps the country if not the world. That happened again Saturday night as the Texas Longhorns beat the Alabama Crimson Tide 34-24 in Tuscaloosa.
In 17 seasons at the University of Alabama, Saban has only lost at home nine times. Three of those losses came in his inaugural year at the Capstone. The remaining six are spread throughout the next 16 seasons, the best home record for any team in College Football during this span.
Each home loss after the 2007 season comes with different circumstances and at the hand of different teams. All were at different points in the season causing different outcomes and perspectives. Let’s dive deeper into each of the six home losses after 2007 and look at similarities between the teams Alabama lost to.
Saban has only lost to Auburn at home once in his tenure at Alabama, coming at the hands of Heisman winning quarterback, Cam Newton.
Alabama started off the game scoring 24 unanswered points with the Tigers scoring for the first time with two minutes left in the first half.
Newton flipped the script in the second half leading the Tigers comeback, throwing two touchdowns and adding another on the ground. Auburn outscored the Tide in the second half 21-3 giving the Tigers a 28-27 victory.
After beating the Crimson Tide, Auburn won the SEC West division, the SEC Championship Game and the National Championship game.
Alabama finished 2010 beating Michigan State 49-7 in the Capitol One bowl improving their record to 10-3.
Titled the game of the century, Alabama lost in a defensive struggle 9-6 to the number one ranked Tigers.
Both defenses stymied the opposing offenses causing the game to go into overtime tied 6-6. Alabama’s Cade Foster missed the go-ahead 52 yard field goal giving the LSU offense a chance to win the game.
The Tigers set up their kicker in prime position after a 15 yard rush from running back Michael Ford. LSU kicker Drew Alleman drilled the winning field goal from 25 yards out keeping LSU at the top of the ratings polls.
Crimson Tide and Tiger fans know it didn’t stop there. Alabama and LSU would both win the rest of their regular season games but since LSU beat Alabama earlier, they represented the SEC West in the SEC Championship Game beating Georgia 42-10.
The Tide got a re-match in the National Championship game against the Tigers and got their vengeance beating LSU 21-0. This was Nick Saban’s second national title at the helm of the Crimson Tide.
2012: Texas A&M
Johnny Football was unleashed on the college football world in 2012 and Alabama was no exception. Whether it was improvised scrambles, shedding tackles or miraculous throws Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies rolled into Tuscaloosa upsetting the number one ranked Crimson Tide 29-24.
The Aggies came out strong scoring 20 points in the first quarter. The Crimson Tide retaliated in the second quarter scoring 14, trailing by six at halftime.
The Crimson Tide scored 10 points in the second half but wasn’t able to stop the eventual Heisman winner Manziel and the Aggie offense.
Much like 2011, Alabama ran the table beating every team after this loss to the Aggies. Alabama faced Georgia in the SEC Championship Game winning an instant classic 32-28.
The Crimson Tide rolled all over the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame in the National Championship game winning 42-14 giving them back-to-back National Championship winning seasons.
The Aggies had already lost two games before playing the Tide but finished their season strong at 11-2.
2015: Ole Miss
In 2015, only three weeks into the season, Alabama lost their first game of the year to the Ole Miss Rebels 43-37.
The year started in uncharted territory for the Crimson Tide as they went into the season with a quarterback competition. Although Jake Coker started the first two games as the Tide’s signal caller, Cooper Bateman got the nod against The Rebels.
Bateman lasted only the first 20 minutes of the game, getting benched in favor of Coker after a second quarter interception.
Heading into halftime the Rebels led the Tide by only one touchdown, 17-10.
In the second half, magic struck the Rebels.
Chad Kelly’s legend amongst Ole Miss fans was born when he connected on a 66 yard touchdown pass to Quincy Adeboyejo that bounced off Adeboyejo’s head and landed in his hands while on the run.
Although Coker and the Crimson Tide attempted a comeback, Ole Miss held on to win.
Just like 2011 and 2012 Alabama would go on to win their division, conference and the National Championship.
Ole Miss lost two more regular season games and ended their season 10-3.
Joe Burrow and the eventual National Champion LSU Tigers burst on the national scene after winning 46-41 over the Crimson Tide.
Although LSU had been playing great up to this point in the season, the stakes around this game were huge. Not only was a massive crowd on hand in Tuscaloosa, but the President of the United States, Donald Trump, was also in attendance.
On their first drive, The Crimson Tide shot down the field quickly but quarterback Tua Tagovailoa fumbled in the redzone giving the LSU Tigers all the momentum.
Although it ended as a close game, LSU once held a 20 point lead over the Crimson Tide.
Tagovailoa and receiver Devonta Smith had huge games for the Crimson Tide but the Alabama defense couldn’t stop the eventual Heisman winner Burrow.
Burrow and the Tigers went on to win the SEC West, SEC Championship and National Championship that season.
Tagovailoa suffered a season ending hip injury a few games later against Mississippi State. Backup quarterback Mac Jones took over signal calling duties for the Crimson Tide the rest of the season.
Alabama would go on to lose to Auburn in the Iron Bowl but win their bowl game against Michigan; the Crimson Tide finished with a 11-2 record.
Texas beat the Crimson Tide 34-24; it was the first time in Nick Saban’s tenure at Alabama his team lost by double-digits at home.
Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers had a heisman performance completing 24 of his 38 passes for 349 yards and three touchdowns.
Much like their situation in 2015, The Crimson Tide still have questions at quarterback after a shaky performance from Jalen Milroe.
Clearly there’s a long season left, but Texas looks to be back and Alabama has many question marks surrounding the program.
There are some clear similarities between some of these losses than can’t be overlooked.
The first being the Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks on the opposing teams. Cam Newton (2010), Johnny Manziel (2012) and Joe Burrow (2019).
Could Texas have a Heisman winner on their team this season?
Quinn Ewers looked unstoppable and non-human at times last Saturday. If he builds off his performance against the Crimson Tide could he make a Heisman run?
Perhaps one of his receivers breaks out and makes a push for the award. Adonai Mitchell and Xavier Worthy are certainly two candidates to do so and are among College Football’s best at their position.
Second, most of the teams that beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa are National Championship winners or runner-ups. Auburn (2010) and LSU (2011, 2019) either won or appeared in the National Championship game in those respective seasons.
Will Texas make the National Championship game this season or even win it?
Finally, in all six games, it took gutsy second half performances to knock off the Tide. Whether leading comebacks or holding onto the lead, all six teams had to knock off not just Saban and the team but also the fans from their game.
Bryant-Denny stadium can hold over 100,000 fans and when desperation mode kicks in for the Crimson Tide, the fans show up and show out. It can be one of the loudest college football stadiums in the country.
Whether winning the National Championship or not, all six teams completed something many other teams could only dream of.
Most teams walk in to Bryant-Denny Stadium knowing they have a daunting task ahead of them; few embrace the challenge like these six.
Alabama still has 10 games left in the regular season including five more home games.
Could another team knock off the Crimson Tide in their home stadium?
We’ll have to wait until week four when the Crimson Tide host the Ole Miss Rebels.
The Tide travel to Tampa and take on the South Florida Bulls on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. airing on CBS.