Alabama began 2013 by routing Notre Dame in the BCS title game to capture the school's 15th national title.
Similar to the majority of Nick Saban’s tenure at Alabama, 2013 was a year in which the Crimson Tide dominated the college football landscape.
The year began with Alabama’s 42-14 dismantling of Notre Dame in the BCS title game. It ended with the team falling just short of having an opportunity to play for its second consecutive SEC title and a chance at a third straight crystal football.
Still, there were plenty of moments that gave Tide fans reason to celebrate in 2013.
Alabama began the season ranked No. 1 in both preseason polls, but there were two games fans had circled on the calendar in the offseason: Sept. 14 at Texas A&M and Nov. 9 against LSU.
The Tide’s games against those two SEC West powers were instant classics in 2012, and both the Aggies and Tigers returned plenty of firepower in 2013.
The much-hyped meeting against the Aggies in College Station turned out to be another thriller, with Alabama prevailing in a 49-42 shootout, despite a herculean effort from Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (524 yards of total offense) and receiver Mike Evans (seven catches, 279 yards and a touchdown).
Alabama’s annual slugfest against LSU appeared to be another game destined to go down the wire, with the score tied at 17 midway through the third quarter. However, after Saban successfully duped Les Miles and the Tigers with a fake punt in his own territory, the Tide would go on the score the game’s final 21 points and cruise to a 38-17 win.
The second-half performance against the Tigers was possibly the strongest and most complete half of football the Tide played all season.
Quarterback AJ McCarron and linebacker C.J. Mosley will exit the Capstone as two of the best players to ever suit up for the Tide at their respective positions.
The two senior leaders and team captains were recognized for their brilliant play this season on the national awards circuit.
As detailed by Andrew Gribble of AL.com, Mosley captured the 2013 Butkus Award given to the nation’s top linebacker. Gribble also notes that Mosley captured the team’s MVP award.
Meanwhile, McCarron picked up some hardware by winning the Maxwell Award (national player of the year), the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (nation’s top senior quarterback) and finishing as the runner-up in the Heisman Trophy balloting, according to Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated.
One of the defining accomplishments of Saban’s dynasty in Tuscaloosa is the assembly line of talent he’s recruited, developed and sent to the NFL.
According to Chase Goodbread of the Tuscaloosa News, Alabama set a school record by having nine former players selected in the 2013 NFL draft, including three who were chosen in the first round.
Since the 2010 draft, Alabama has produced an astounding 13 first-round picks. Considering Tide players such as Mosley, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio are rated among the best draft-eligible prospects at their respective positions, that trend is likely to continue in 2014.
Saban is unquestionably one of the premier coaches in all of football, and when his name was repeatedly brought up in association with the recent vacancy at Texas, it led to some anxious moments for the Tide’s fanbase.
However, as Michael Casagrande of AL.com detailed, Saban’s recent contract extension—with a bump in salary that nets Saban $7 million annually—should put the speculation about his future to rest.
Even though Alabama failed to reach the BCS title game, keeping the architect of its dynasty is a consolation prize worth celebrating.
Alabama’s triumphant 42-14 beatdown of previously unbeaten Notre Dame in the 2012 BCS title game put a stamp on the dynasty talk surrounding the program.
The win over the Irish gave Alabama its third national title in four years and earned Saban a fourth championship that put him in rare company among the coaching fraternity.
Alabama also became the first team to repeat as outright national champions since Nebraska in 1994-95.
While the heartbreaking loss to Auburn in the season finale put a damper on the finish to this season, Alabama still reigned over college football for a majority of the year, thanks to a vintage performance against the Irish that netted the program its 15th national title in school history.