ATLANTA – There were a lot of things Alabama didn’t need to beat Georgia.
They didn’t need to dig a grave. They didn’t need a miracle. They didn’t need a comeback or a last-second drive. They didn’t need a record-setting performance or a Heisman moment.
All they needed was to be the team that they’ve become.
After the Texas loss, things were dire – at best. Longhorns fans celebrated in Bryant-Denny in a way that few had done before, Jalen Milroe’s doubters grew louder and the Crimson Tide looked lost. Halftime in South Florida had fans questioning everything.
But they evolved. Milroe became the clear best option and Tommy Rees reworked the offense to suit his game. He still made mistakes, but every week he made strides. Before you knew it, the Katy, Texas native was breaking records and booking his ticket to New York. A receiver room that had no clear first option turned into one with two names that opponents fans won’t be forgetting any time soon.
Now, there’s a true three-word statement that wasn’t even a possibility to anyone who doesn’t wear the script a across their chest a few months ago.
Alabama. SEC Champions.
This isn’t your average Saban team. This isn’t the Alabama team from just a few years ago that annihilated its competition en route to a COVID national title. Joyless murderball? Not quite.
Instead, Alabama – at least this iteration – have evolved into underdogs who scratched and clawed their way to a trophy ceremony inside Mercedes-Benz.
“I think I couldn’t be prouder of a bunch of guys on a team that has come so far from where we were second, third game of the season,” Nick Saban said after his team’s 27-24 victory over the No. 1 team in the nation.
“They’re truly a team.”
Milroe, despite his commitment to staying in the moment, took the time to appreciate the wild tide that Alabama rode all the way to a conference title.
“We have to acknowledge the journey we’ve been on. I can only be just complimentary of the guys in the locker room because end of the day when people doubted us, we continued to work hard.”
The redshirt sophomore finished the night 13-23 for 192 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He began Saturday’s game with a pair of three-and-outs, but bounced back and finished the game with no turnovers. Two massive runs sealed the win at the end.
Alabama have done all they can. Now they must wait for the College Football Playoff committee to decide their fate. Sitting in eighth after the penultimate ranking, the Crimson Tide’s fate is not in their own hands.
Is the playoff the four best teams, like executive director Bill Hancock said? Or is it the four most deserving? Saban thinks Alabama is both.
“We’re not the same team we were when we played Texas… I don’t think we should be considered as that team right now. I think people should look at the whole body of work in terms of what the team was able to accomplish and what they were able to do. I think this team is one of the four best teams, one of the teams that’s deserving to be in the playoff.”
Milroe also had a statement after the win.
“Georgia No. 1, right? You beat the No. 1 team, what do you consider us?”
Considerations will be made in Grapevine, Texas – where the playoff committee will meet for the final time on Sunday to decide which teams will compete for the national championship. It’s a tough debate, regardless of how things shake out in the remaining conference title games.
But there’s a real possibility that Sunday will come and go and Alabama will be forced to consider a tough truth.
Sometimes your best isn’t good enough.
But there’s three words that however unfathomable, will always be true about this team.
Alabama. SEC Champions.