Another Iron Bowl is in the books and could be responsible for sending another team to the BCS championship game from the state of Alabama. The Tide finished the regular season with a 42-14 win over in-state rival Auburn.
Being the final game of the season for the Tide, they needed to send a resounding message to the voters. Were they able to do that? Find out as we cover five things we learned about the Tide from this win.
Over the last decade there have been many great running backs in the SEC. However, during that span I have not seen a running back who runs the ball harder than Trent Richardson—I can’t think of a running back I would rather have on 4th-and-1.
Richardson has 1,910 total yards and 23 total touchdowns on the season. What has been most impressive about Richardson are his yards after contact.
I cannot remember a running back in recent memory who leaves so much carnage in his path. Tonight, every time they would tackle Richardson they would be slow getting up and he would pop up like the Energizer Bunny.
Will he win the Heisman trophy? I am not sure. Is there a player more deserving? Not a chance.
Alabama fans have been shouting since the LSU game that the better team did not win. However, since that time, LSU has improved greatly with Jefferson as the full-time starter. If Alabama wants to beat the Tigers, they are going to have to improve on special teams.
It is not just field goals, but special teams in general. In the last two games, the Tide has given up a kickoff for a touchdown. In the Georgia Southern game, Laron Scott returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown and tonight Onterio McCalebb returned a kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown.
If Alabama is selected to play in the championship game, they will need to improve these areas or they will become a dagger in the heart of their championship hopes.
Alabama continues to go with the short intermediate routes over the deep ball outside of trick plays. As a result, they are getting their tight ends more involved than they did earlier in the season.
Brad Smelly and Michael Williams played solid football tonight, catching eight passes for 98 yards. For Smelly, it was his second consecutive week with a season high in receiving yards.
The Tide will need Smelly and Williams to play well in their bowl game to take pressure off of the running game and A.J. McCarron.
Alabama came into this game needing to send a strong message to the voters. Regardless of what people might tell you, Alabama is not a lock. History tells us that teams who do not play the last week before the final regular-season rankings, struggle.
SEC fans need to only look back to 2008 when the Georgia Bulldogs went into the final week before the final BCS rankings at No. 4 in the BCS poll, with the LSU Tigers at No. 7. Georgia was idle because they lost their division tiebreaker to Tennessee.
LSU, on the other hand, defeated Tennessee in the SEC championship game, 21-14. The No. 1 and No. 2 BCS teams lost. Instead of moving to No. 2, the Bulldogs were jumped over by the Tigers from seventh place.
The lesson is simple: The voters like conference champions and punish idle teams.
Oklahoma State currently sits second in the computer polls and are ahead of Alabama in four of the six polls. As a result, the Tide needed to leave a glaring message.
The message was 42-14 and out-gaining the Tigers 397-140 in total yards. They will not play next week but at least they were impressive today.
For voters who were watching the game, they might have left with the same impression I did. Alabama does not have a great quarterback, they have no playmakers at wide receiver, their special teams are anemic, but they can play with anyone in the nation because of their defense.
There is an old saying that goes, "You can’t lose ball games if the opponent does not score." So it is with this Alabama football team.
The Tide have the top defense in the nation and no team is going to score points in bunches against the Tide. If you do not score on a turnover or special teams, you might not score at all.
This is the issue the voters are left with. If you match up the elite teams against Alabama, they might have a better offense and special teams. However, that defense is so good it is going to make up the difference.