Nick Saban never turns down an opportunity to motivate and keep his Alabama football team on its toes. Oklahoma’s loss to Kansas State last week presents that kind of opportunity for the legendary head coach.
Like Alabama, Oklahoma has been a College Football Playoff regular. The Sooners are likely still the favorite in the Big 12, but with a shortened schedule and no high-profile non-conference games, an early season loss to KSU could wind up being even more costly than a loss like that during an average season.
Alabama started the season relatively strong. The Crimson Tide jumped out to a 28-3 lead over Missouri at halftime. A number of starters, including quarterback Mac Jones, were pulled in the third quarter, and Alabama was outscored 16-10 in the second half. Saban cautioned his team of letting off the gas, after seeing Oklahoma blow a huge lead to the Wildcats.
“I don’t think we played very well in the second half, so we didn’t play a complete game,” Saban said. “So obviously, that’s really, really important. I guess you could ask Oklahoma that question, because I’m sure their coach is saying some of the same things we said. Their players probably respond a little bit better because they had negative consequences. Our players, you know, it’s the worst thing you can do, play poorly and win.”
— Alabama Crimson Tide | AL.com (@aldotcomTide) October 1, 2020
“We played poorly in the second half and I don’t think anybody’s immune from that,” Saban continued. “I’ve told the players that, so I’m not talking about them behind their back. And it’s really my responsibility.”
“I came home and felt bad that I must have done a really, really bad job, not in getting the players ready to play the game, but maintaining their intensity throughout the game.”
On paper, this weekend should present a tougher test to Alabama football, though their opponent—Texas A&M—struggled to get by perennial SEC basement-dweller Vanderbilt in their opener. Alabama is a huge favorite though, giving 17.5-points right now.
Saturday’s game in Tuscaloosa kicks off at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.