It Always Is About Bama

Anyone who has been watching Alabama football in recent years had reason to expect an outcome different than Alabama 41, Arkansas 38 on Saturday night. Much is made of Arkansas failing to fold, coming back from down three touchdowns with 28 consecutive points. And rightly so. But as we'll all come to know, football in the South is once again about Alabama. And about Nick Saban.

As Alabama's 21-point third quarter lead was erased by the potent offense of Arkansas Saturday night in Bryant-Den ny Stadium, one can imagine the thoughts around the Southeastern Conference, and around the nation. One suspects the opinion was that the Sports Illustrated story on Nick Saban and Alabama was once again premature, that the Crimson Tide was still losing games in the fourth quarter, that you can't buy success.

Alabama was beaten.

And then suddenly one of the bears of college football seemed to rise from hibernation. This was the Alabama that has bullied the competition for oh so long. This was the Crimson Tide that finds a way to win instead of a way to lose.

Gimme that old time blocking and tackling.

This is Nick Saban's Alabama, and don't think the college football world hasn't noticed.

Saban was pleased with the victory, of course. But he didn't quit coaching when the clock went to 0:00.. Within moments of the finish he was telling prospects, "This is why you come to Alabama." And later he was telling the media that his team needed to learn from its mistakes, that Bama had played far from a perfect game for 60 minutes. Indeed, he said that Arkansas had won the battle on the line.

Before the game Saban said he had admired Arkansas Coach Houston Nutt for getting the most from his personnel. Nutt's personnel this year includes one of the finest football players ever to play against Bama. Darren McFadden is the real deal, and that makes the Razorbacks a formidable opponent.

Beating Arkansas is a noteworthy achievement. Much has been made of Alabama's record in the years in which the Tide defeats the Razorbacks as opposed to the Bama record in the years in which Arkansas wins this early season game. One reason the Tide does better in years in which it wins is the obvious: Alabama has a pretty good team when it can beat the Hogs.

It is not reasonable to think that Alabama is a national championship contender. Not yet. Saban has made it clear that building is underway. Players have to learn to do things the right way all the time before there can be expectation of titles.

But it's likely that right now in college towns near and far the specter of an awakened Alabama football is cause for discomfort. Which makes things feel pretty good in the Crimson Nation.

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