Alabama rode the wave of last year's national championship victory six weeks into the 2010 season. The South Carolina Gamecocks knocked them cleanly off the perch with a near-flawless performance from both the offensive and defensive units.
Alabama victories at home against Ole Miss and on the road at Knoxville following the loss to USC gave the Tide a renewed confidence and kept hope alive for a potential shot at repeating as SEC champion, with the chance to punch a ticket to the BCS National Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz.
But as Nick Saban led his team into the shadows of the Valley of Death, they faced their fears and were left wanting. Their hopes and dreams of greatness faded as the blood drained through the open wound inflicted by the Bengal Tiger as the sun set in Baton Rouge.
Critical wound, but not mortal, as the resilient Alabama offense showed new life in a feisty demonstration of explosiveness against the MSU Bulldogs: three plays and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, the defense has continued to show tremendous growth and development game after game since the beginning of the season.
Safety Robert Lester leads the league in interceptions. The defensive line logged five sacks against Mississippi State—more than they had for the entire season prior to last Saturday night. This team does not have quit as an option in the final games of the 2010 season.
Here is a look at how Alabama must perform in order to shut down the Cam-wagon. It has a chance to collectively send the Auburn football team and fanbase away from Tuscaloosa to the SEC Championship Game with wounded pride. The stage is set for an epic final scene in the 2010 season.