It was classic theater.
Style versus flair. Determination versus desire. Respect versus street cred. Self confidence versus swagga.
Alabama versus Arkansas. What a game that was!
It wasn’t always pretty but there were some beautiful plays on both sides of the ball by both teams -- Ingram’s first touchdown run will be on highlight reels for many years to come; Mallet’s poise in slicing apart Bama’s secondary in the first half will be studied by every Tide opponent. Stewart’s and Crim’s touchdown-saving interceptions that helped keep the Hog’s in command of the game; Lester’s and Kirkpatrick’s 4th quarter interceptions that allowed Bama the opportunity to overcome a double-digit deficit and win. It was heart versus desire. It was purpose versus grit. In the end, the tested and tried won out over the testing and trying.
The results do not bode well for the remaining teams on Bama’s schedule. As tough as they were before, they will be twice as tough going forward. The Razorbacks grew up in that game too, grew into a more formidable opponent, one that knows what it can do best and what it must do better. In a year, two at most, Arkansas will have more of the intangibles that a true championship team needs, maybe all of them.
But on Saturday, only one team on the field had what it took to win the game. It wasn’t just talent. Both teams have talent enough to win against any opponent they face. Gameplan? No one can deny that both Saban and Patrino had great game plans, mapped out winning strategies. All of the tangibles certainly played a part; the wealth of talent both on the field and on the sidelines is undeniable. But, in the end, the game wasn’t decided just on talent versus talent or coaching versus coaching.
It was decided by the intangibles that can’t be taught, only honed. The will to win versus the want to win. The Arkansas players wanted that game more than anything. But wanting it can only take a team so far. When a team hits the wall, when their greatest adversary isn’t the player across from them but the heart inside of them, the will to win will triumph every time.
To the Arkansas faithful I say this: The Tide will not look forward to facing your team next year. Your resolve will be stronger and your team will be better.
But the outcome will be the same.
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