Alabama went to bed a better team than they woke up Saturday.
Every college football juggernaut needs to be tested at least once before the postseason. The Crimson Tide took its test this weekend against LSU and passed by the score of 21-17. A blowout would’ve been nice, but the Tigers forced Alabama to battle and its national championship odds increased because of it.
The Associated Press reported that Alabama starting quarterback AJ McCarron—who engineered its 72-yard game-winning drive—said of it after the game (via ESPN): “It was like clockwork. The whole offense just looked at each other and you could just tell in everybody's eyes it was like, ‘We do this every Thursday, so what's the difference here?’”
Let me tell you what the difference was.
When McCarron said “every Thursday,” he was referring to running the two-minute drill in practice. While he and his teammates were right in that the execution aspect of it doesn’t change all that much in-game, it’s impossible to recreate what’s perhaps the two-minute drill’s greatest challenge.
McCarron may have completed four of five passes on the drive, but it’s safe to say that his success wasn’t the result of Nick Saban’s ability to simulate the atmosphere of being down 17-14 against the No. 5 team in the nation at Tiger Stadium. That was all McCarron and company flipping the clutch switch.
And that needed to happen for Alabama eventually.
Prior to Saturday’s contest, it had embarrassed its opponents by an average of 32.5 points per game. Sure, the Crimson Tide is overwhelmingly talented, but it isn’t about to beat Oregon or Kansas State by that margin.
Pre-LSU, Alabama hadn’t proven that, if it needed one stop or one score to win a ballgame, it could pull it off—it hadn’t been in such a situation. But on Saturday, it confirmed it’s capable of doing just that.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.