The Alabama Crimson Tide proved Saturday night that it takes a total team effort to win a championship. While this may not have been a College Playoff matchup, for Alabama it was even keeled with the importance.
If the Tide lost, mathematically they weren’t eliminated but mentally that might as well have been. For two straight seasons, Ole Miss has defeated the Crimson Tide and are one of the few teams in CFB that can lay claim to that honor. While the coaches have downplayed the importance for this game, as players you knew it was lingering in their heads. This was a must one for many reasons.
No team wants to be dominated three straight years, then be put in a position where everything you worked for this offseason could come crashing down. But this ‘Bama team would not go down without a fight and for the first half, they left that fighting spirit on the team bus outside the stadium.
Ole Miss jumped out to a 24-3 lead, but an offensive touchdown by Calvin Ridley pulled them within 14 right before the half, but after a defense stop, Ole Miss punted and just like that it was 24-17. Two touchdowns in 65 seconds. The Tide came to do battle today.
But Ole Miss was ready to defend their home. Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly threw for 421 yards on a tough ‘Bama defense but his two turnovers in the second half were the turning point. With the game still winnable Kelly dropped back, under pressure, threw a dart, but to the wrong team. Defensive end, Allen took the errant pass and raced 75 yards for what would become the game-clinching score.
Ole Miss put up a great fight but this is how champions are supposed to respond. They could have easily pulled a Florida State and folded under pressure but when you have been to the top of the mountain as many times as Nick Saban and this team has, there’s always some dignity left to play with.
Jalen Hurts, even as a freshman understood the importance of this game as went and played the best one his short collegiate career so far. There were no jitters, he recovered from a vicious blow and scorched the Rebels defense for 158 through the air and another 126 on the ground. This was a total team effort all the way around, the kind only champions understand.