For days on end, it seems, Alabama has been considered just facing a bit of a speed bump en route to the national championship game in Dallas on Jan. 12. We’ve had a radio host backing off his earlier claim that Bama’s 2013 loss to Auburn meant the end of Crimson Tide dominance in the state. A newspaper columnist claims he really didn’t say the Alabama dynasty was at an end.
But then comes the collapse of the Southeastern Conference Western Division in bowl games. The perceived Tyronosaurus Rex of college football, the SEC West saw its Mississippi representatives humbled and LSU hosed, and national pundits are looking back at Bama’s struggles with those teams and seeing Alabama vs. Ohio State in a new light.
But have they heard OSU Coach Urban Meyer say he’s trying to build an SEC-tyle team?
The Crimson Tide, ranked first in the nation, meets the fourth-ranked Buckeyes tonight in the Louisiana Superdome. Kickoff was announced for 7:30 p.m. CST, but will likely be later, 7:50 or so. ESPN will televise the game.
First of all, facts are facts. Alabama did lose at Ole Miss and did have to make a desperation drive to send the LSU game into overtime, where Bama won in Baton Rouge. It is a stretch to say the Tide struggled with Mississippi State. The game was not as close as a late, inconsequential Bulldogs touchdown made it look at 25-20.
That has nothing to do with the play of those teams in bowl games or how Alabama will perform in the Sugar Bowl, anymore than Ohio State’s two-touchdown home loss to a mediocre Virginia Tech team has any effect on how the Buckeyes will play against the Tide.
Alabama is 3-0 against Ohio State all-time. Bama Coach Nick Saban is 2-1 against Meyer all-time. OSU has something like a 1-10 all-time record against SEC teams.
What matters is which team is on its game, which usually means which team has the best players and has had the best preparation. No one who has been paying attention would suggest that Meyer will not have his team prepared, but none would think that the Buckeyes would be better prepared than Saban’s team.
Back to Meyer wanting to build an SEC-style team, meaning an Alabama-style team when you get to the top of the SEC. He’ll get that done. He’s on the way to having that done. But Saban had a head start. Alabama is already that team of size and speed and belief in the process.
Who will be the star? Blake Sims is as good a guess as any, and that’s our pick. We like the idea of a man who has matured while quarterbacking a team to the SEC Championship against one who has one win, albeit in the Big Ten title game. We still think Bama is a couple of toiuchdowns better.
And one thing we certainly are not worried about is any advantage Ohio State may have from whatever words of wisdom the Buckeyes got from Mississippi State Coach Dan Mullen.