Tide Football's Five Biggest 2013 Games

Gene Stallings is an interesting man with thoughtful insight. Among his memorable statements in his Hall of Fame career as head football coach at Alabama he said, "If you think a game isn't big, just lose it and you'll find out how big it was." The man who beat Florida to win the first SEC Championship and beat Miami for the national title also had an interesting take on his biggest win.

Alabama opened the Gene Stallings era in 1990 ignominiously. The Crimson Tide lost to Southern Miss, Florida and Georgia.

And then on Sept. 29, Bama defeated Vanderbilt, 59-28, and the winning had begun. Stallings would win 70 games in his seven years, including the first Southeastern Conference Championship Game and the National Championship Game in 1992, when Bama went 13-0. No wonder Stallings later reflected that his biggest win was over Vanderbilt.

With the Stallings caveat that all games are big, here is an opinion as to the five biggest games on the 2013 Alabama football schedule as the Crimson Tide attempts to win its third consecutive national championship and fourth in five years:

Number 5: LSU, Nov. 8, Bryant-Denny Stadium

The Crimson Tide vs. the Fighting Tigers has been a hotly-contested game in recent years and depending on how things go earlier in the season could be a Gameday selection depending on how things go in the first two months of the season. In the past two years home field has not been a winning field in this game, but all things considered there is something to be said for the game being played in Tuscaloosa.

Number 4: Virginia Tech, Aug. 31, Georgia Dome, Atlanta

Although the Hokies had a little slide last season, this is still a highlight game to kick off the season. Certainly it was big in 2009 when Bama began its 14-0 national championship season with a 34-24 win over Virginia Tech in this same Kickoff game. It is a great first game for the Tide because Tech is a respected name with an excellent coach in Frank Beamer, meaning Bama players will have focus in preparation and a boost of confidence if the Tide can win.

Number 3: Texas A&M, Sept. 14, Kyle Field, College Station

Last season's lone loss to Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel didn't keep the Tide from going on to win the SEC and BCS championships and it propelled Manziel to the Heisman Trophy as a freshman. This is the much-anticipated re-match. On a Heisman level, it is reasonable to think that one of three players – Manziel, of course, and Alabama's A.J. McCarron and T.J. Yeldon – could emerge as the favorite. More important, though, is the team factor with the winner having great momentum for the SEC West championship.

Number 2: SEC Championship Game vs. SEC East Champion, Dec. 7, Georgia Dome, Atlanta

It has been a long, long time since the winner of this game didn't play in the BCS National Championship Game. Moreover, Bama considers SEC titles to be important, and the Tide would like to add number 24 to its resume. Additionally, since Alabama doesn't play any of the perceived Big Three from the SEC East, it helps to defeat the best of those three in the SEC Championship Game, as was the case in the win over Georgia last year.

Number 1: BCS National Championship Game vs. nation's number two ranked team, Jan. 6, Rose Bowl, Pasadena

To get to this game, Alabama will almost certainly have to have a perfect record to this point. Even though the Crimson Tide has proved conclusively in the last two national championship games that Bama was, indeed, the nation's best team, there is a national weariness with Alabama seeming to back into those games against undefeated LSU in 2011 and undefeated Notre Dame in 2012. But go undefeated and then win this game in the Rose Bowl in the final BCS Championship Game, and all will be right with the Crimson Tide going to the College Football Playoff beginning in 2014.

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