Throughout his coaching career, Nick Saban has been praised for his ability to get his team ready to play when he has extra time to prepare for a game.
After a sluggish victory in the season opener against Virginia Tech, Alabama gets a bye this weekend and will prepare for one of its biggest challenges of the season when it travels to face No. 7 Texas A&M on Sept. 14.
As Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports points out, the myth surrounding Saban and bye weeks is somewhat misleading. As dominant as he has been during his tenure in Tuscaloosa, his record is 3-3 coming off a bye week. However, to put those defeats in proper perspective, all three losses came to LSU clubs that were ranked in the Top 10.
So how does a bye in Week 2 affect Alabama’s chances to win a game with significant conference and national title implications?
That depends on which perspective you choose to view it from.
Considering the Tide’s inept offensive showing against Virginia Tech, a game against a nonconference creampuff would probably be a good way to work out the kinks the week before a big game.
Alabama gained just 206 yards of total offense last week, which was 99 yards lower than its worst offensive output in 2012.
But the defense looked to be in midseason form, limiting Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas to just five completions on 26 attempts. Plus, Saban and his staff had plenty of time during the offseason to formulate a plan of attack for the showdown against Texas A&M.
On the other hand, getting extra time to prepare for a club that poses as many challenges as the Aggies can’t be a bad thing, can it?
The Aggies defense surprised the Tide with its strength up front in last year’s meeting. With the new-look Alabama offensive line's struggles against the Hokies, getting back to working on the fundamentals may be needed to meet the challenge of facing Texas A&M at Kyle Field.
That same logic applies to the defense, as the Tide prepare to try and slow down Johnny Manziel and Kevin Sumlin’s high-powered, uptempo attack that blitzed them a year ago.
The one consistent theme during Saban’s tenure is that his team has always risen to the challenge of executing at a high level in big games. In actuality, the bye week may be a blessing in disguise after an effort that was subpar by the Tide’s lofty standards.
Given how last season’s game against the Aggies transpired, it likely wouldn’t matter when these two teams meet. Regardless of the date, both teams will be amped up for a game that fans across the country have circled since the 2013 schedule was released.