They say football is a game of inches, and indeed it is.
Take Alabama’s blocked field goal at Tennessee last season, for example. If Alabama’s Terrence Cody, a 350 pound nose tackle, hadn’t gotten his hand positioned just in the right spot, Tennessee’s field goal may have sailed through the uprights for the victory.
A few weeks later, Alabama went up against LSU and had a late six point lead. They were driving when Tiger cornerback Patrick Peterson seemingly intercepted a Greg McElroy pass at the Alabama 30-yard line and appeared to get both feet inbounds. The replay was debatable, but after a look by the officials, Alabama kept the ball.
Instead of LSU first and 10 at the LSU 40, Alabama chewed up some clock and went down for a field goal, and a final score of 24-15.
After passing their first test at Arkansas, the Crimson Tide have their second of big tests when they play host to Florida this Saturday. As the defending National Champion, they come into this game ranked No. 1 and are favored to win the game by more than a touchdown.
Imagine for a second what the case would have been if Alabama would have lost that game at Tennessee, or if the referres in fact ruled Peterson's interception differntally. Perhaps Alabama wouldn’t have been in the National Championship. Perhaps Boise, Ohio State or Oregon would be atop the AP poll this week if that were the case.
Would Florida be this big of an underdog if Alabama was ranked No. 3?
In 2008, the Florida Gators beat Alabama in the SEC championship when both teams were undefeated. Consequently, Florida went on to play Oklahoma and won the National Championship.
Last season, the favor was returned.
Alabama used a clock controlling run game to beat the Gators by 19 points and get themselves to the National Championship.
The revenge now lies with Florida and Urban Meyer.
Urban Meyer hasn’t lost many games in his coaching career, but one thing remained consistent: he doesn’t forget about them.
In 2007’s rival game between Georgia and Florida, Georgia’s coaching staff sent their entire sideline of players onto the field after the Bulldog’s first score, even though a 15 yard penalty for excessive celebration would ensue. Georgia went on to win the game by 12 points.
Meyer proceeded to put up 51 points vs. Georgia the following season in a 30 point win, and kept Tim Tebow in for the entire game.
Going back to Urban Meyer’s days at Bowling Green, you’ll find that when he did lose to a team, and played the same team in the next season, one thing usually happened: he beat that team the second time.
Nick Saban is running a great football program up in Tuscaloosa and his team is coming off an impressive "come from behind" victory over a good Arkansas team. In the SEC, perhaps college football‘s toughest conference, can Saban‘s team do it again?
Even though Alabama returned just two defensive starters from last season, they played well enough to defeat Ryan Mallett and the Razorback’s high powered offense. The defense was especially good on third down, allowing Arkansas to covert just two of 10 chances.
However, the 421 yards allowed was the most by an Alabama defense since playing LSU in 2007.
Prior to losing vs. Alabama last season, the last time the Gators had suffered a loss more than two touchdowns was to Alabama in 2005, and Urban Meyer came back and defeated the Tide in 2006.
Interestingly enough, this is the biggest underdog (nine points) any of Urban Meyer’s teams have been in his career since his very first game with Bowling Green, when the Falcons traveled to Missouri as a two touchdown underdog.
Bowling Green won the game.
Alabama looks like the premier team in the country, and Nick Saban is as good as it gets when it comes to coaching. Running back Mark Ingram is back and healthy along with senior quarterback Greg McElroy, and the Tide are coming off an impressive road win over a good Arkansas team.
Just don’t forget about little ole’ Urban Meyer. After all, his Utah and Florida teams have been an underdog just seven times. He won four of those games, and lost the other three by less than a touchdown.