How Nick Saban Will Get Even with Auburn, College Football Gods in 2014

Christopher WalshCollege Football National ColumnistJune 18, 2014

What's tougher than beating a Nick Saban team? Doing it again.
What's tougher than beating a Nick Saban team? Doing it again.Butch Dill/Associated Press

The loss was nothing short of stunning, especially considering the opponent. 

The University of Alabama defense had limited Auburn to season lows in total offense and rushing yards, only to be left watching as the Tigers celebrated the remarkable comeback win.

"We didn't finish the game," Alabama coach Nick Saban said during his postgame press conference. "When you play good teams you've got to play for 60 minutes. Those kinds of teams don't go away. There's a lot of lessons to be learned out there about finishing games and continuing to do things correctly.”

Yet this wasn’t last year’s epic finish at Jordan-Hare Stadium, where Chris Davis’ 100-plus yard touchdown return off a missed field goal as time expired resulted in an epic 34-28 finish.

This was the 2010 game. Due to a torn pectoral muscle, safety Mark Barron couldn’t lift his arm to intercept or deflect a pass that resulted in a 70-yard touchdown, running back Mark Ingram had just his second lost fumble in 613 touches and Alabama blew a 24-0 lead.

The Crimson Tide subsequently responded by winning the rematch 42-14 and the next two national championships only to learn the same tough lesson all over again.

The question now is can Alabama bounce back in similar fashion?

There’s no way of knowing until the season plays out and the rivals meet again Nov. 29 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, but history tells us that the Crimson Tide should be more than ready.

Les Miles won the 2011 regular-season battle, but Nick Saban won the war with LSU.
Les Miles won the 2011 regular-season battle, but Nick Saban won the war with LSU.Dave Martin/Associated Press

Since 2008 only eight opposing coaches have managed to pull out a victory against Saban, while just one, Les Miles, has defeated him twice in a row. Previously the last coach to defeat him in consecutive games was Steve Spurrier when Florida was flying high under his direction. It pounded LSU 41-9 in 2000, and 44-15 in 2001.

Before losing to LSU during the 2011 season Saban had won 12 straight rematches.

In those 14 initial defeats Saban’s team lost by an average of 14.4 points. In the rematches he won by an average of 14.7 points.

Of course, no rematch was bigger than LSU in 2011, when the Crimson Tide lost the regular-season meeting in overtime, 9-6, only to play again for the national title. Despite LSU being in its back yard of New Orleans, Alabama recorded the only shutout in Bowl Championship Series history, 21-0.

It’s part of a familiar pattern.

Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow beat Saban once in the SEC Championship Game, but not twice.
Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow beat Saban once in the SEC Championship Game, but not twice.Dave Martin/Associated Press

After losing to Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer in the 2008 SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, Alabama spent a lot of the following offseason working on the Gators. It returned to the Georgia Dome and won.

Last year it did the same to Johnny Manziel and Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M. After the Aggies pulled off a 29-24 win in 2012, when Alabama was facing its third ranked team in as many weeks, the Crimson Tide went to Kyle Field and notched a 49-42 victory.

Consequently, there’s a reason why no SEC opponent has a winning record against the Crimson Tide under Saban.

Overall, there are just nine programs that have an edge on Saban over his 18 years as a collegiate head coach. Florida State, Navy, Stanford, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Utah and Washington are all 1-0, while Nebraska is 2-0. From his Big Ten days at Michigan State (1995-99), Wisconsin is 2-1 while Purdue is 3-1-1 thanks largely to quarterback Drew Brees.

Michigan was one of the few opposing programs with an overall winning record against Saban before he arrived at Alabama. The Crimson Tide opened the 2012 season with an impressive 41-14 neutral-site win in Dallas. 

That’s the same venue where it will open the 2015 season against Wisconsin, where Saban will once again try to show that he doesn’t just get mad about losing, he gets even.


Christopher Walsh is the lead Alabama football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. 

Follow @CrimsonWalsh