Do you want to know why Alabama is the Death Star of college football? Wondering what’s behind Georgia’s resurgence? It’s simple, really: Nick Saban’s tackle isn’t like everyone else’s tackle. His tackle requires incapacitation, apparently, or total destruction.
Saban on Wednesday night expressed disappointment that his Crimson Tide missed a season-high 15 tackles against Ole Miss. Couple things here: WUT? HOW?
Alabama beat the Rebels 66-3 last Saturday, allowing 88 rushing yards and 165 passing yards. This means if there were 15 missed tackles, there must’ve been 15 swift clean-ups by the reinforcements. More likely, Saban is just frustrated that on 15 occasions an opposing player was merely stopped, not dismembered.
Darth Saban’s relentless commitment to perfection — and carnage — is precisely why his dynasty shows no signs of slowing. And why the Bulldogs seem to be building something similar in Athens, led by Saban understudy Kirby Smart.
Top-ranked Alabama has already pulverized Florida State this season and in the last two weeks beaten Vanderbilt and Ole Miss by a combined score of 125-3. No. 5 Georgia has already won at Notre Dame this season and in the last two weeks beaten Mississippi State and Tennessee by a combined score of 72-3.
These twin programs — or more accurately father-and-son organizations — are doing it the same way: freakish defense. The Commodores managed 78 total yards against the Tide two weeks ago and for the season, Alabama is allowing just 2.8 yards per carry, 73.8 rushing yards per game and but one rushing touchdown … in five games.
The Bulldogs rank second nationally in points allowed (behind ‘Bama), third in total yards allowed (244 per game) and fourth in yards per play (3.8). Georgia is also following the Saban Model at quarterback, where true freshman Jake Fromm has been a perfect game manager: 10 total touchdowns, just 2 interceptions, 152 total yards per game.
Smart has a tough call this week, as it appears Jacob Eason is ready to return from his Week 1 knee injury — but it doesn’t really matter whether he or Fromm (or both) play. Like so many great Alabama teams, Georgia has two terrific running backs and a suffocating defense, and that’s enough.
At this point, it would be a shock to see anyone but the Bulldogs represent the East in Atlanta. Now, what about the West? Should we just assume Alabama is going to get there again? Probably, but there is exactly one team that still has hope of foiling the showdown between master and pupil.
No. 12 Auburn is also following a similar path to the Tide and Bulldogs: After a narrow loss to defending national champion Clemson early this season, the Tigers shelled Missouri and Mississippi State the last two weeks by a combined score of 100-24. In hindsight, what the SEC’s Tigers did to the ACC’s Tigers defensively is nothing short of spectacular.
Clemson has averaged 523 yards and 42 points in its other four games this season — but managed just 281 yards and 14 points against Auburn. Stout defense and powerful rushing attack (253.5 per game the last two). Sound familiar?
But here is the thing about imitation: It is both flattering and likely to be flattened when it runs up against the original. Because you can try to recreate Saban’s maniacal obsession with beating the very will to continue out of people, but you’ll never match it.
The man’s big takeaway after outscoring his last two SEC opponents by 122 points was that Alabama had 15 “missed tackles,” which we assume the team statistician officially records as “souls not snatched.”
Of course, Saban is just looking for any critique to rile his juggernaut ahead of a potentially tricky road trip to College Station this weekend. Alabama will not, but many might be sleeping on Texas A&M, which if not for blowing a 34-point lead at UCLA in the opener would be undefeated and ranked right now.
The Aggies have gotten a lift from true freshman quarterback Kellen Mond, who since getting complete control of the offense has thrown for 676 yards, rushed for 208 more and produced 6 total touchdowns with 2 interceptions the last three weeks. This all sounds promising, except Alabama.
But you know what’s worse than having the Tide roll into town? Anything about Ed Orgeron’s and Butch Jones’ week. Orgeron just lost at home to Troy, not long after that 30-point loss to Mississippi State, and now has to take the Tigers to Florida. (Les Miles slipping on sunglasses dot-GIF.)
Jones is just happy to have a bye week — Tennessee fans wish it was goodbye week, though that is surely coming — after a 41-0 loss to Georgia. One can only imagine the excuses he can come up with during all this time off.
Let’s end these Rules with a nod to the weirdest team in the league: Kentucky. The Wildcats struggled to put away Southern Miss, Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Michigan — the final of which had a Hail Mary in the air to beat UK last week — but handled South Carolina on the road and lost a 1-point heartbreaker against Florida.
So here they are: hosting truly terrible Missouri for a chance to be 5-1 heading into a bye week. What follows is hardly a gauntlet: at Mississippi State (outscored 80-13 the last two games), home against Tennessee (dumpster fire), home against Ole Miss (Alabama roadkill), at Vanderbilt (decomposing Alabama roadkill), at Georgia and home against Louisville.
Which is to say, incredibly: Nothing crazy has to happen for Kentucky to be 9-1 when it heads to Athens on Nov. 18, in which case the Wildcats and Bulldogs would be playing that day for the SEC East title. Yes, really.
Your Week 6 watch guide, in descending order of fun: No. 1 Alabama at Texas A&M (7:15 p.m. ET on ESPN), LSU at No. 21 Florida (3:30 p.m., CBS), No. 5 Georgia at Vanderbilt (noon, ESPN), Ole Miss at No. 12 Auburn (noon, SEC Network), Arkansas at South Carolina (4 p.m., SEC Network), and Missouri at Kentucky (7:30 p.m., SEC Network).