Western Carolina vs. Alabama: Crimson Tide Need a Win to Save Season

Ryan DavenportContributor INovember 17, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 27:  AJ McCarron #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide talks to his offense against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 27, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Last week, the unthinkable happened: Nick Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide lost.

After defeating perennial heavyweights such as No. 8 Michigan, No. 11 Mississippi State and No. 5 LSU, it seemed ludicrous to think that the Tide could possibly fall to No. 15 Texas A&M, but last Saturday, that's exactly what happened.

Now, with the No. 4 Crimson Tide set to take on 1-9 Western Carolina, A.J. McCarron and his teammates need a win, and a lopsided one at that, in order to salvage their season.

That's because only a week ago, Alabama looked as unbeatable as any college football team in recent memory, and they seemed poised to claim their second consecutive BCS National Championship, only to lose for the first time in over a year with just two regular-season games remaining.

All is not lost, though, because even if they're not on track to make an appearance in the BCS title game, Alabama should still be gunning for a marquee BCS bowl game, because this team is too talented to let the season slip away.

Against Western Carolina, the Tide should use the game as an opportunity to regain some of the confidence they lost following the Texas A&M game, because they still have a great deal to play for.

As ESPN's preview of today's game points out, while the Tide will need other top-5 teams to fall in order to move back into BCS title game contention, they still need to lock up a berth in the SEC title game.

That means beating Western Carolina and Auburn and then No. 5 Georgia in the SEC championship game. The Tide would earn a berth in Atlanta with a victory over the Tigers.

The next order of business is restoring order to a program that barely beat LSU and lost to the Aggies.

"We have an opportunity now to prove that we are and can be a good football team," Saban said. "That's what we want to focus on. That's all we want to talk about. We are looking forward.

That's the attitude the Tide need to take into their clash against Western Carolina, because after two straight rather lackluster performances, Saban's boys need to have a bounce-back game, or they won't even come away with the SEC title this season.

Failing to win the conference championship would be an overwhelmingly disappointing outcome for this group of players, which is why they need to take the first step towards preventing that from happening, by winning today.