1. Q: Was the Alabama’s national title disaster the beginning of the end of the run?
Of course one stunningly bad national championship shocker doesn’t mean it’s the end of an era, but in hindsight, sometimes it can the marking point when a program pivots out of the national title window.
The defending national champion Florida State team of 2000 was an overwhelming favorite to beat Oklahoma for the national championship. It was shocked 13-2 in the Orange Bowl, and the next year the Seminoles went 8-4.
It took a long run of mediocrity – at least for FSU – and the pivot from a legendary head coach to get back to national title prominence. The program didn’t win the national title again until 2013.
The phenomenal 2002 Miami team was supposed to roll past Ohio State in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, lost, and hasn’t been much of a factor in the national title chase ever since.
The powerhouse USC era under Pete Carroll got Vince Younged in the 2006 Rose Bowl, and while there were several amazing seasons after it, that’s been it for the national championship runs.
Will 44-16 be what signals the end of the epic era of Alabama dominance, or did that just anger and refocus the beast?
Assume the latter.
This is the program that got past the Kick Six to Auburn in 2013 to get to the College Football Playoff in 2014. It got over the loss to Ohio State in that CFP to beat Clemson for the 2015 national title. It also got over the heartbreaking loss to the Tigers to end the 2016 season by beating Georgia in the thrilling College Football Playoff national championship the following year.
Look no further than Clemson to know how to use a horrendous performance to springboard into something special. The offense couldn’t do anything in the 24-6 Sugar Bowl loss to Bama in the 2017 season, and one season later …
Now Nick Saban can hammer home to his team to never take anything for granted. Now he can yell about trusting the process even more, and how it’s not the hunter instead of the hunted – whether that’s real or not.
It’s not a given for any team or program to win a Power Five conference title and do it with just one loss or fewer, but until further notice, just assume that Alabama had one really, really, really bad game against a really, really, really good and sharp Clemson team.
SEC Team Previews, 5 Things To Know
East Florida | Georgia | Kentucky | Missouri
South Carolina | Tennessee | Vanderbilt
West Alabama | Arkansas | Auburn | LSU
Mississippi State | Ole Miss | Texas A&M