While the Alabama football team has had some difficulty playing one the road — suffering its two losses this season away from home — the Tide has been able to add five wins to its streak of 19 consecutive at Bryant-Denny Stadium this season.
“I think there is a sense of comfort [in playing at home],” said head coach Nick Saban. “Last year, when I was making my first few road starts, I had a little bit of uneasiness. You have that routine and get into a comfort zone when you are at home. Everything just kind of rolls the same, and it feels very natural.”
The Tide’s home winning streak is the third longest in school history at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The second-place mark started November 1, 1941, and ended November 11, 1950.
“Every player here loves to play at Bryant Denny,” said junior running back Mark Ingram. “The fans are so special. They’re important. They make it hard for the other team to have success, being how loud they are. Just how hard it is for the other team to communicate, it helps us a lot. The energy of playing in front of them is something we all look forward to.”
The longest winning streak at Bryant-Denny Stadium is 57 games from Oct. 26, 1963, to Nov. 13, 1982. During the current streak, the Crimson Tide is 11-0 against Southeastern Conference competition and 5-0 against top 25 teams.
“Playing here is a big advantage,” said junior defensive lineman Josh Chapman. “We have great fans and on the defensive side of the ball you can hardly hear anything. You can’t hear the calls. We feed off of with our fans and they have been doing a great job.”
During the Tide’s home game winning streak, the defense has given up only one rushing touchdown, which dates back to the beginning of the 2008 season. The offense has had 39 rushing touchdowns during the win streak and has averaged 161.8 more yards per game of total offense than its opponents while rushing for 124.1 more yards per game.
“It is an advantage to play at home,” said junior offensive lineman William Vlachos. “There were some times this past week where it got a little bit loud and some communication errors took place. You can’t let that distract you though, because that is part of football. We know what we have to deal with when we go on the road.”
While some Alabama players like playing at home because it puts them at ease and they are comfortable with the environment, others think its all about pride and protecting their house.
“You have the fans behind you and everybody’s family comes here and they support you,” said junior wide receiver Julio Jones. “Nobody is going to let an opposing team come in their house and whoop them. We pride ourselves on that.”
Alabama is also outscoring its opponents by 23.5 points per game, averaging 31.1 points per game to its opponents’ 7.6 per game.
Senior quarterback Greg McElroy is one of the team’s major contributors to the win streak. McElroy has gone 178-for-267 and had 2,376 yards, 17 touchdowns and a 66.7 percent completion rate. But, even McElroy is still not giving into Georgia State at home as an easy win.
“Knock on wood,” McElroy said. “Obviously the atmosphere helps. You can communicate so much better once you’re on your own field. I think just that comfort level is probably the most impactful especially for the guys that haven’t played a lot of games.
“You just never really feel like you’re in your element when you’re playing a game away. And when you’re at home, it all feels natural and you’re just so acquainted with everything. I think the reason we’ve played so well at home this year is because of that.”
The Tide’s new stadium expansion this year raised the seating capacity to 101,821, making it the fifth-largest college football stadium in the nation.
“It’s always good to play at home,” said sophomore offensive lineman Chance Warmack. “I see it as, you are more comfortable because you don’t really have to deal with the noise. You’re inside the count when you’re at home. You’re at your own snap. Your able to communicate better at home. It’s all about communication. The more communication you get the better the players are. That’s what we have to work on in away games.”
After Alabama’s 30-10 win over Mississippi State, Saban voiced how much he believed the home-field advantage helped the Tide earn the win. But, he also pointed out how he still isn’t satisfied with where the team is despite the Tide’s win streak.
“The crowd was great in the game,” Saban said. “I think it was very inspirational to our players that the crowd was so supportive in the game. They have certainly helped us play at home. I know we’ve won, I don’t how many in a row at home, but we want to be able to continue to do that and build on that in the future.”
With undefeated Auburn coming to Tuscaloosa after the Georgia State game, something has to give – the Tide’s winning streak or Auburn’s national championship run.