*This column was originally posted in The Inkwell, and on its website.
Remember when we all talked about how this year the South Eastern Conference is down and Alabama will go down? Remember when Oregon seemed like they might be too fast for the Crimson Tide and maybe even physical enough too? Remember when the Alabama versus LSU game was going to be the game of the year? Yeah, I remember that weird, happy dream too.
Of course I rooted against Alabama over the weekend, and for mainly the same reason that so many of us are rooting against the Tide. We are sick of Alabama and Nick Saban, because we aren’t Alabama and Saban. We just aren’t that good and they are. Oh yeah, I’m not from the South and I’m an Oregon fan, so those are reasons I’m sick of Alabama too.
Remember those days in paradise when it seemed like Les Miles and his grass-chewing, trick-playing ways were Saban’s demonic perfectionist kryptonite? And remember when the Crimson Tide and the Tigers could play on the same level of football? Those days were fun, even though sometimes they entailed a 9-6 LSU victory that could put you to sleep, but at least it wasn’t just waiting around for Alabama to win and break your heart. Those days also might be over.
The biggest indicator that those days are over was when Saban and the Tide were tied 17-17 with the Tigers midway through the third quarter on Saturday night. One coach ran a fake punt and completely surprised the other coach. No, the “Mad Hatter” Les Miles did not run another one of his sneaky plays, but the so-called boring Saban beat the man at his own game, and went on to trounce his team.
When it worked, you knew. As soon as Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley took the snap and handed it to safety Jarrick Williams, as soon as he crossed the first-down marker and converted the play like Miles’ teams have done so many times in the past, as soon as the camera forgot to show Saban pointing and laughing in an Alice in Wonderland costume and Miles spitting out wheat grass, you knew it was over.
Alabama essentially did whatever they wanted to LSU after that play and pounded the ball down their throats all up and down the field. The drive with the fake punt went 79 yards on 14 plays and nearly lasted eight minutes. It was the perfect kind of Saban drive. The clock management was a spit in the face of Oregon and their blink of an eye scoring drive or run into Stanford and have them ruin your season again. The Tide controlled the clock, executed their plays perfectly and stole a chapter right out of their challenger’s book. It’s the kind of drive that makes you hate Alabama and be jealous as hell of them, because they can do whatever they want for being just that good.
After the drive, Alabama scored, and scored, and then scored again. In the meantime, LSU did not. A game that felt close, and one that might make our little dream become a reality, was quickly over and by a long shot. Alabama won the game 38-17, scoring 21 unanswered points after the fake punt.
The most surreal part of the game and the closer that the old glory days are over, happened after the game. Known as having a devilish soul, whose life is based on winning football games and erasing the word fun from the dictionary, Saban took a victory lap around the stadium to salute the Alabama fans and students, smiled from ear to ear, and leaped into quarterback A.J. McCarron’s arms. We’re all screwed.
Here’s the reality: Nick Saban still rules college football, and now he’s smiling while he crushes our dreams. Now, let me wipe my tears from my keyboard real quick. Good luck America.