Alabama’s loss to Auburn this past weekend all but ended their streak of College Football Playoff appearances. With two losses, Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide will in all likelihood be playing in a big bowl game, but will not be contending for the national title.
There were many things that went wrong for Alabama in that 48-45 loss to the Tigers, not the least of which was kicker Joseph Bulovas missing a game-tying field goal in the waning moments of the game.
But ESPN analyst Paul Finebaum believes that Alabama’s loss is the result of something bigger, and a big problem Saban is having.
In his weekly radio spot with WJOX, Finebaum asserted that the penalties Alabama committed were unlike many of Saban’s previous teams. Alabama committed 13 penalties in the loss, including a 12 men on the field penalty on Auburn’s final drive that iced the game.
As for Alabama’s kicking woes, Finebaum brushed that off as Alabama is used to struggling with special teams.
Via Saturday Down South:
“…the point is this is not the Alabama we’re used to. We’re used to Nick Saban’s teams playing pretty flawless offense and defense with the exception of special teams. You expect a kicker to have trouble at Alabama. That’s baked into the DNA of the Saban era, but not what we saw with the penalties, 13 penalties, false start across the board, undisciplined, and that’s coming from players. We’re not talking about pundits here.”
Ironically, the penalties and special teams woes may not have even been an issue if not for the quarterback trouble.
It was Mac Jones’ first game against an opponent of Auburn’s caliber, and he threw two pick-sixes.
Nevertheless, the penalties are still concerning. And as Finebaum pointed out, they’re very uncharacteristic of a Nick Saban team. He added that Saban has been “out-coached” in most of his big-time games.
“The greatest coach in college football has been out-coached in his last 3 significant games and you guys know the stats as I say them, he’s lost 2 out of 3 to Dabo, that’s a fact, he’s lost 2 out of 3 to Gus Malzahn and that’s the one I think is difficult for a lot of people to digest,” he said.
Whether that game was an aberration or a sign that Saban’s message isn’t getting through, the consequences of losing have been severe this season.