This wasn’t just a big game in front of the friendly, home crowd. It wasn’t just a game between two ranked foes.
It was the game of the week in college football, on the grandest stage. Heisman front-runner against Heisman winner in the biggest game in Fayetteville in decades…the campus practically shut down in anticipation for almost a week as the largest crowd ever to watch a game in Pigville filed into town.
And what did the Tide do? What Alabama does best. Take the air out of the hype machine and slowly pound their opponent into submission. At their place. On their turf. In front of their fans, supporters, girlfriends and band.
Prior to the game and even during, broadcasters were committing verbal fornication with the latest object of their lust, Ryan Mallett. Not since Tim Tebow had I seen such uncomfortable preoccupation with a player.
But after a learning curve for a young but talented secondary, Alabama dropped a mallet on Ryan Mallett, keeping his Hogs out of the end zone in the second half when they couldn’t afford to stay out of the end zone.
At times in the first half and part of the 3rd quarter there was reason for concern. 313 yard through the air through three quarters at times made Bama’s newbie defensive backs look silly.
But in the end it was the big QB that was the butt of the joke, throwing for just 44 yards and a 37.0 passing efficiency in the final period. Oh, and two INT’s at the hands of a swarming Bama defense that knows when to step on the gas. Bama took Mallett for three picks for the game.
“You could just see the look on those guys’ faces,” said junior receiver Julio Jones. “They were gasping for air, and we were going to keep the tempo going and stay on them.”
Sophomore offensive guard Barrett Jones sensed the same notion:
“I felt they were getting a little tired and could feel the momentum swinging, and that’s when we wanted to drive the nail in the coffin, as we put it, and put the hammer down.”
All in all, this is a team that refuses to lose.
“We’re a team that just refuses to lose,” said Alabama QB Greg McElroy. (See, I told you.)
And maybe most importantly, it’s a team that knows what to do with hyped-up quarterbacks in big, all or nothing games. Maybe because they’ve been there so many times since the start of the 2008 season.
Black outs. Red outs. Retro uni’s. National audiences. Your place. Our place. Regular season games. Championship games. BCS National Championship games. Doesn’t matter.
Thanks to Alabama head coach Nick Saban, if you’re the next opponent on the schedule, this Alabama team knows what to do with you. Whether you like it or not, they will finish you.
And in the end, there isn’t a single thing you can do about it.
(Follow me on Twitter at ITK4BAMA for capstonereport.com news, updates and smack.)