When Texas A&M took a 14-13 lead in the early moments of the second half in Saturday’s game against Alabama, it almost looked like a strange practical joke.
Alabama… losing? That couldn’t be the case.
Not this Alabama team, not this juggernaut of a squad.
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Texas A&M is an excellent football team, no doubt, but something seemed wrong.
Alabama then proceeded to restore balance and order to the universe by laying waste to the Aggies in the final 27:54 of the game.
Final score: 33-14. Alabama made it look easy, just as they have all year.
Right now in college football there are bad teams, mediocre teams, great teams, and Alabama. The Tide are in a class by themselves — not even Ohio State or Michigan can claim to be at their level — and while any team can be beaten any week, it doesn’t feel like that truth applies to Alabama.
Nick Saban has won five National Championships and six SEC titles. He's coached some of the greatest teams in the history of college football.
This 2016 Crimson Tide looks like the best team Saban has ever coached.
Where is this Alabama team’s weakness? It has a defense that rotates first-round draft picks for fun. Rueben Foster, who is a human missile and an inescapable force on the field — he's the best linebacker in the nation — is an afterthought behind that amazing Alabama rush.
A couple years back, Saban made a decision to go smaller and faster with his defensive lineman as a response to the spread offenses that were proving difficult to stop. Saban did not sacrifice power in that effort, though.
This is the result:
Tim Williams, Jonathan Allen, Ryan Anderson, they do stuff like this to really good teams, like Texas A&M. That’s not fair.
Alabama’s defense alone is good enough to enter the conversation of Saban’s greatest teams, but the 2016 Tide’s offense is on another level as well.
Jalen Hurts is the first true freshman to ever start for a Saban team. He’s added versatility and dynamism to the once-stale Alabama offense and deserves serious consideration for the Heisman Trophy. Alabama’s offense might not be as efficient as previous editions, but there’s no specific scheme or style teams can run in an effort to stop the Tide attack — they have to match up man-for-man, and that’s a dangerous proposition for any team in the nation.
Oh, and the offense has only one starting senior — tight end OJ Howard.
We’ve known for a few weeks now that this Alabama team was special, but every week, the bar seems to rise.
After a close-call win over Ole Miss, they've destroyed the No. 16, No. 9, and No. 6 team in the nation.
Saban has only led an undefeated team to the title once — in 2009. That team had Julio Jones, Trent Richardson, Mark Ingram, Cody Allen, Rolando McClain, Mark Barron, and Dont'a Hightower — it was one of the greatest college football teams of all time.
But if this team continues on its current path, it’ll be hard to argue that it isn’t markedly better than that 2009 squad.
There are still games to be played, and again, anything can happen between now and Jan. 9, but hen this season is over, we might not be asking if it’s Saban’s best team ever — we might be wondering if this is the greatest college football team ever assembled.