This is why I like Nick Saban.
His team is ranked No. 1 in the nation. It had laid waste to its last two opponents by a combined score of 125-3. His team had not committed a turnover in 36 quarters of play.
Alabama seemingly had control of a game at Texas A&M with a 24-3 lead. But to the Aggies’s credit, they fought back and their young quarterback, Kellen Mond, grew up before our very eyes.
So instead of grinding another opponent into submission, Alabama had to play all four quarters to win 27-19. Oh, the humanity of it all.
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Let it be noted here that Kyle Field was rocking after a blocked Alabama punt resulted in a safety to bring the Aggies to within 12, 24-12, with 10:20 left in the game. But Alabama responded with a 10-play drive that took over four minutes off the clock and resulted in a field goal to essentially put the game out of reach. Texas A&M added a “feel good” touchdown with 17 seconds left.
After the game Saban first gave credit to Texas A&M, which had a good game plan that allowed the Aggies to hang in there. Then Saban sent a message to his team, via the media:
"I'm trying to get our players to listen to me instead of listening to you guys," Saban said in the post-game presser. "All that stuff you write about how good we are. All that stuff they hear on ESPN. It's like poison.
"It's like taking poison.
"Like RAT poison."
Then later he said “We’re not going to beat everybody 66-3.”
See, it wasn’t just ANY poison. It was RAT poison. Classic.
It was the perfect result for Alabama. The Crimson Tide won a tough game on the road and there were just enough things that went wrong to allow Saban to coach them hard this week in advance of the next two games with Arkansas and Tennessee. After that comes a week off to get rested for the November stretch against LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn.
With the level of talent possessed by Alabama, Nick Saban has always known that his most formidable opponent is complacency. He has always known that the biggest challenge is playing up to the standard set by Alabama and doing it week after week. And when Alabama fails to meet the standard, and still doesn’t lose, it gives him the perfect teachable moment.
Some Alabama fans, as fans are wont to do, will over-analyze the Texas A&M game and see it as a cautionary tale that exposed some weaknesses that a future opponent will exploit. To those fans I would simply say: Relax. It was a tough game on the road. You won. You’re 6-0.
On Sunday Alabama still received 43 of 51 first-place votes in the AP media poll. The Tide got 57 of 65 first-place votes in the coaches poll. The people who do it for a living still think Alabama is pretty good. No. 2 Clemson beat Wake Forest by 14 at home. No. 3 Oklahoma LOST at home.
But you gotta love that Saban managed to get the words “rat poison” into the football lexicon.