As I'm watching the Oklahoma vs. nobody game, it's 38-7. I don't think I'm going to stay up for the end. Florida beat the Crimson Tide tonight and, if anybody was wondering, the SEC championship lived up to its billing.
Just one week after people equipped with no soul were selling pieces of paper outside Bryant Denny Stadium with the words "Alabama 36, Auburn 0" on it for $5 dollars to helplessly adrenaline-filled fans, the Men in Crimson fell to the Florida Gators (the best team in college football), 31-20, covering the Vegas spread.
Mark Ingram did as good as a freshman could do along with Julio Jones (who made the game as close as it was) as Glen Coffee ran for well over 100 yards.
At the end of the game, the Gators had things well in hand, making the Tide faithful hope for a simple "score really really quickly/get onside kick/score really really quickly again." If you can get your opponent into that kind of situation, then there's a good chance your coach is going to smell like Gatorade on his bus ride home.
As it is, Alabama did the unthinkable. The Tide were supposed to win 9 to 10 games this season. If you look at it like that, it feels pretty good that we accomplished so much.
But as the season went on, our expectations changed; we no longer believed we were restricted to what ESPN said and felt that we were watching something really special happen right in front of our eyes.
That's why this loss hurts. Ask me preseason if I'd like to go undefeated, win the west, lose the SEC championship and go to the Sugar Bowl..."I'll take two, please."
Even though nobody picked us to even win 10 games, much less 12, it still hurts knowing that in the fourth quarter we had the lead and were 15 minutes from playing for the national championship.
The Tide had created an identity in the second half. It was the same identity they had established all year long, for that matter, but at this point in the game the Novocaine had started to take effect in the Florida defense.
They began taking long drawn out drives that ate up great amounts of time. It appeared that the Florida defense was gassed and the battle of the lines were creating holes for the Alabama running backs.
On 3rd down in the fourth quarter Florida desperately needed to keep a drive alive instead of the unlikely "three-and-outs" that the Alabama defense was able to impose throughout the game. It appeared that a stop hear coupled with a following touchdown by the Tide might put them in Miami on Jan. 8.
As the speedy back raced to the sideline to turn the corner Alabama stopped him three yards short of the first down and immense celebration around the south broke out...
... and then a yellow flag flew into the air.
After a brief conversation a slightly nervous official turned on his microphone and announced a facemask penalty which gave Florida the first down they desperately needed. A replay showed the fingers of Donta Hightower were indeed tugging on the side of the facemask while the Florida running back was brought to the ground.
It was at that moment that the momentum of the second half (unfortunately the most important half) changed for good.
It's worth noting that Tim Tebow goes against everything you learned from your little league ball coach. You were taught that you had to play as a team, that no "one" player can do it on his or her own.
Tebow could not be contained by an Alabama team that indeed played as one. Both should take pride in how they played the game. What took Alabama, as a team, to do in nine play would take Tebow two plays. He lived up to the title "first-ever sophomore Heisman Trophy winner."
If Mr. Tebow never takes another down for the University of Florida he would still go down as the greatest quarterback in the history of that program. He has been able to impose his athleticism and use his intelligence (showing up at the fieldhouse to watch film at 6:00am) to outsmart his opponent and then outwork them on the field.
With that being said, back to Alabama. It's worth mentioning that the team that was fielded by Alabama in this SEC Championship is the least talented team that coach Nick Saban will coach at the University of Alabama. He has proven that he will recruit and get the best talant available. Alabama has a lot to look forward to with him at the helm.
Nobody can comprehend just yet an Alabama team with 3 or 4 of Nick Saban's recruiting years. Hand written letters to highschool players in their mailbox on Monday congratulating them for what they did on the past Friday. Alabama will in the coming years boast of the depth that the Gators will take to Miami on Jan. 6th.
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