In a season that has seemed to be more turbulent than normal for Alabama, Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide sit at 7-1 and are No. 9 in the most recent AP Poll.
After a long eight weeks, Saban believes this break will be much needed for his group.
After a walk-in-the-park win in Week 1 over Middle Tennessee, Alabama faced its first adversity of the year in Week 2. Texas rolled into Bryant-Denny Stadium and won the game 34-24. In response to the loss, Saban benched starting quarterback Jalen Milroe and ran with Ty Simpson and Tyler Buchner. In their audition against South Florida, both quarterbacks were unimpressive, passing for a combined 107 yards and no touchdowns. The team was still able to eek out a 17-3 win, though to many it felt like a moral loss.
Saban went back to Milroe for their next game against Ole Miss, and hasn’t looked back since.
Finding their Stride
Going into the Ole Miss game, many expected Lane Kiffin and his team to pull off the upset against the struggling Crimson Tide. Alabama made a statement instead, winning 24-10 in what would be the second of six wins in a row. They ran through the SEC opponents on their schedule after that, with wins over Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Arkansas.
Then, in Week 8, they faced adversity once again. Tennessee traveled to Tuscaloosa and after a late second quarter touchdown, entered halftime up 20-7 with the Crimson Tide looking lifeless. Though, they flipped the switch once more and dominated the second half. The defense pitched a shutout as the offense scored 27 points to win the game 34-20.
Milroe had an efficient day, completing 66% of his passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns. Jase McClellan added a burst on the ground, going for 115 yards rushing and one touchdown. Saban talked about the importance of controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the field, a discipline that showed itself against the Volunteers.
After this bye, Alabama hosts the No. 15 LSU Tigers, who sit in second in the SEC West standings, right behind the Crimson Tide. Saban hopes for another strong performance on the line of scrimmage against a team with dangerous weapons on offense. After that, Alabama closes out their regular season with games against Kentucky, Chattanooga and Auburn.
The Crimson Tide will look to win all four, securing their spot in the SEC Championship. Then, their fate rests in the hands of the College Football Playoff committee, who Saban hopes will rank them amongst the top four.