Tennessee vs. Alabama: Nick Saban Has Crimson Tide Playing at a Ridiculous Level

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterOctober 26, 2013


There's little doubt that Alabama head coach Nick Saban is the best head coach in college football after he has hoisted three crystal footballs in his first six seasons in Tuscaloosa.

Around the country, it seems like complacency has set in when discussing the Alabama Crimson Tide. The discussion isn't who's No. 1, it's who can mount a challenge to No. 1, and there aren't many contenders to the throne.

Alabama QB AJ McCarron
Alabama QB AJ McCarron/Getty Images

That complacency doesn't exist on Saban's roster, though.

Alabama toppled Tennessee, 45-10, on Saturday afternoon in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated on Saturday afternoon. Quarterback AJ McCarron threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns, running backs T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake combined for 161 rushing yards, Yeldon rushed for three touchdowns and the defense allowed just 322 yards and 10 points to demoralize the Vols.

"I felt like we did our job today, came out and started fast," McCarron told CBS' Tracy Wolfson on the broadcast after the game. "We kind of felt disrespected. They called us 'the red team' all week long and said that we didn't deserve to be called 'Alabama.' We wanted to come out and prove that we weren't just any team."

Alabama head coach Nick Saban
Alabama head coach Nick Saban

What's even more impressive is that the performance versus Tennessee wasn't impressive by Alabama's standards—it was par for the course.

Just how dominant have the Crimson Tide been? ESPN Stats & Info examines:

Alabama has outscored its opponents 151-0 in the 1st half in its last 6 games.

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 26, 2013

But it's more than just first-half dominance.

Outside of the 49-42 win over Texas A&M, Alabama has outscored its opponents 281-36 and allowed just three touchdowns all season, despite replacing an All-American corner in Dee Milliner and a couple of starters along the defensive line.

Alabama WR Kevin Norwood
Alabama WR Kevin Norwood/Getty Images

As it was last season, Saban's biggest opponent in 2013 is "complacency." Unlike last season, though, his roster isn't loaded with players who went through the disappointment in 2010 when an ultra-talented Tide team lost three games.

Instead, it is loaded with players who know nothing but success. It'd be easy for a team like that to get complacent, but this Alabama team isn't complacent at all.

It's surgical.

It's as hungry as it ever was, and that's a major compliment to a coach whose biggest challenge is convincing 18- to 22-year-old young men not to believe their own press clippings.

This isn't a football team; it's a machine that produces results regardless of its components.

Before we talk about the strength—or lack thereof—of Alabama's opponents, just stop. 

Whether you think highly of teams like Ole Miss, Virginia Tech and Tennessee or not, Alabama is doing what elite teams do to lesser teams—jumping all over them and not letting up, even when the backups take the field.

It's one thing to build a dynasty, but it's another to sustain one. Saban has already accomplished the former and is well on his way to accomplishing the latter. The latter is the more impressive feat, given the talent that exists in the conference, the small margin for error and the limited time coaches have with players in college football.

Alabama is playing like "Alabama," and that is truly remarkable.


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