The very first game of the 2010 college football season was South Carolina versus Furman on Thursday night. As I watched that game, I realized just how formidable the Gamecocks would be as an opponent.
Looking through our schedule, it was the only game I was worried about. Why? There were a few reasons. The first was that it was away. It was the third away game of the season, the halfway point in the five road games. It was also decently far away. About six to seven hours driving time away from Tuscaloosa, it can be mentally exhausting to think how far the team travels on these weekends.
Second was that it was the mid-point in the Crimson Tide’s season. By week six, teams have started to take their bye-weeks to recuperate, but Alabama doesn’t get a week off until week nine of the season. It’s another thing that wears and tears.
Third of course is that South Carolina had a bye week prior to this game. This last thing is something Alabama is going to have to get used to.
But here’s why I think Alabama isn’t going to lose any more this season.
For many of the players on this 2010 team, it’s their first loss ever. They will remember this feeling, and they won’t ever want to feel it again. Motivation to win is one thing; motivation to not lose is another. So now, the Tide has both.
There are six games left, and four of them are at home. Currently, Alabama is on a 17-game winning streak at home, dating back to the season opener against Tulane in 2008. The last home loss was in 2007 to Louisiana-Monroe. Since that game, one thing this team has taken pride in is defending its house.
The game against Auburn to end the season will be a big test, but I don’t believe this team will allow the enemy to break that home winning streak.
The two road games left are Tennessee and LSU. Yes, Tennessee did give LSU (and Les Miles’ job) quite a scare in Death Valley, but that just shows how beatable LSU can be at home. And UAB gave the Volunteers quite a scare in double overtime at Neyland Stadium, which shows Tennessee only shows up to some of its games.
These two teams are rivals, and they will give Alabama their best games. But motivation from a rivalry can only carry so far. Alabama is better than both of these teams, and when it comes down to the last minute, skill as well as conditioning can outweigh any rivalry.
Assuming I’m right and we win out the rest of the regular season, Alabama will make its third trip in a row to Atlanta to face either Florida or South Carolina for the Southeastern Conference title game. I hope it’s South Carolina so Alabama can get its revenge. And if it’s Florida…I think the Tide can handle them again.
Winning out this season isn’t only possible; it’s plausible. Making it to the national championship game again may be out of Alabama’s reach. But just because we don’t bring home number 14, it doesn’t mean it’s not a successful season.
Beating Auburn and being able to take another shot at South Carolina seems like a pretty successful season to me.