The night belonged to ‘Bama. The season belongs to ‘Bama. And if Nick Saban & Co. keep this up, the entire decade will belong to ‘Bama too. That, plus a massive NBA upset. Let’s break it down.
Alabama looks pretty dynastic right about now.
You can aree or disagree with the system that put them there, but when it’s time to take care of business in the national title game, Alabama takes care of business. Following a 42-14 thrashing of Notre Dame last night, the Tide has itself two straight national titles, and three in four years – the last two by a combined score of 63-14. What else can you say? Notre Dame came in No. 1 and undefeated, but Alabama was better in every facet. They were up 28-0 at halftime. They rushed for 265 net yards to the Domers’ 32. Everett Golson settled down later on in the game and made some nice throws, but the outcome was long since decided.
That vaunted, second-in-the-nation-in-point-allowed Notre Dame defense – the one that looked like it was made in an SEC team’s image – it allowed 529 total yards. Heisman contender Manti Te’o? He wasn’t heard from much, except when people pointed out his uncharacteristically high number of missed tackles. And if ND’s defensive players were a bit gassed near the end, it’d be hard to blame them – they were out there for 38-plus minutes.
For Saban’s crew, on the other hand, everything worked. Both the offense and defense dominated the line of scrimmage. The defense got a spectacular interception. The offense didn’t turn the ball over once. A.J. McCarron threw for four touchdowns. Both T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy rushed for over 100 yards. It was just about everything Saban could dream of seeing in a game, except for those two late touchdowns that didn’t matter a bit to the outcome. He’s built a program fully in his image – always driving, never satisfied, always striving relentlessly for the next goal. All that adds up to a lot of performances like last night’s – a performance about which even Saban didn’t try to hide his pleasure.
As for where the Tide go from here – again, on to the next goal. McCarron said it himself (when he wasn’t shooting down NFL defensive linemen who were hitting on his girlfriend) practically as soon as the game ended. They’ve had their 15 seconds of enjoyment, and now it’s back to work. Same for the coaches, who next month will sign one of the top recruiting classes in the country, just like they do every year. Three titles in four years is a tough run to even come close to replicating, but the Tide will try. And, we’ll bet, they’ll win some more titles while they’re at it.
Around the Association…
The Wizards are weird. They’ll lose practically every game, firmly establish themselves as one of the worst teams in the league – and then pull out a win when you least expect it. They did it earlier this season against the Heat, and last night against 2012’s other NBA finalist, they did it again, downing the Thunder 101-99 on a late highlight reel jumper from rookie Bradley Beal. Beal, who had 22 points overall last night, has looked more and more deserving of his No. 2 overall drat pick status lately, scoring over 20 points in three of the Wizards’ five games in January. Whenever John Wall comes back, the Wizards’ backcourt looks like it could be a legitimate strength. Hopefully for the franchise, “playing decently against anyone other than the best teams in the league” will also develop into more of a strong point.
The Celtics showed some life last night, too, beating the Knicks 102-96 at the Garden. Carmelo Anthony, in fact, took exception to just how much life Kevin Garnett showed, and confronted him off the court after the game (a minor on-court, in-game skirmish took place as well). Garnett had 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Paul Pierce scored 23. Mediocre as they’ve been for most of the year, this is a team you count out at your peril.
Elsewhere: the Thunder weren’t the only title contenders to lose inexplicably, as the Spurs fell to the Hornets 95-88. Anthony Davis had 17 and 9 while Eric Gordon scored 24 (though he took 22 shots to do it), so New Orleans’ future building blocks look like they’re getting on track after lengthy injury absences. The Jazz beat the Mavs 100-94, though Dirk Nowitzki (20 points) is rounding into form himself, some much-needed good news for Dallas. The Trail Blazers handed the Magic their ninth straight loss, prevailing 125-119 in overtime. And finally, a couple blowouts: the Grizzlies routed the Kings 113-81, and the Bulls easily dispatched the Cavs, 118-92. The Bulls are 19-13 – not bad for being Rose-less.
No more college football.
;_; – well, except for recruiting. And signing day. And more recruiting. And spring practice and spring games. And still more recruiting. And preseason camp and preseason previews and oh let’s face it it’ll barely feel like it went anywhere. Still, won’t be quite the same as having games going on. In the meantime, here is an image by which to remember this past season:
Photos via Getty