In college football, few coaches are better at preparing their team to take on an opponent than Nick Saban. Most likely the major difference in winning the Clemson and Georgia games this season was Saban's and his coaches' game plans.
Against Utah, one thing was glaringly evident. The Tide was not ready to play.
Throughout the first quarter, Utah's no-huddle offense completely confused the Tide's defensive players and by the time Saban and Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart came up with a solution the Utes led Alabama 21-0.
The rest of the way, Alabama's defense played pretty well and held the Utes to only 10 points. One has to wonder how the game would have turned out if the defense had been prepared for the Utes' no-huddle offense BEFORE the game instead of DURING the game.
But it wasn't just a poor defensive scheme that hurt the Tide. Knowing that Andre Smith would not be available, Offensive Coordinator Jim McElwain made few adjustments before or during the game to offset his absence.
On 'Bama's first drive, it was apparent Utah was having success getting to quarterback John Parker Wilson via Smith's left tackle position.
As in the Florida game, McElwain called few screens, especially center screens, forgot about quick hitting, short passes to backs out of the backfield, or passes to the flats, and most obvious was his total neglect of the running game even when Mark Ingram seemed to be having success.
Without a doubt, Nick Saban has assembled a very good coaching staff who surely won several games this season on the basis of their coaching prowess, but Friday night in the Sugar Bowl was not one of them.
No, this was a game 'Bama lost simply because they were...Outcoached.