Alabama looking to finish the season strong, 'see where it takes us'
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama’s been here before. That’s the only reassurance the No. 3 Crimson Tide faces after its 46-41 loss to No. 2 LSU.
Saturday’s defeat put an end to a series of achievements for Alabama. The Crimson Tide saw its 31-game home winning streak snapped as well as an eight-game run against the Tigers.
More importantly, Alabama (8-1, 5-1 in the SEC) also lost control of its postseason destiny, as LSU (9-0, 5-0) now holds the inside track to the SEC West title. The Crimson Tide is also sure to drop out of the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday, putting its pursuit of a sixth straight playoff appearance in jeopardy.
However, one thing Alabama can control is how it finishes out its season. That was the challenge it received from head coach Nick Saban, who reminded his team that it has advanced from this position in the past.
“We don’t want to waste a failure,” Saban said. “There’s a lot of lessons to be learned, especially from the things that we did and didn’t do today. I think that everybody’s got to make a commitment to finish the season the right way. We don’t really control our own destiny, but if we finish the season the right way, we can see where it takes us.
“We’ve been in this situation before, so I think the big thing is everybody needs to learn from the mistakes we made today and try to learn from them and get better.”
Alabama’s last regular-season loss came in the 2017 Iron Bowl when the Crimson Tide fell 26-14 at Auburn. While that defeat kept Alabama from reaching the SEC Championship Game, the Crimson Tide was still able to secure the fourth spot in the College Football Playoff en route to beating Georgia in the national championship game.
Due to a weaker schedule, Alabama might have a tougher time repeating that feat this season as only one of its three remaining games will come against a ranked opponent. The Crimson Tide will travel to Mississippi State (4-5, 2-4) next week before hosting FCS opponent Western Carolina (3-7) on Nov. 23. Alabama will now have to hope No. 11 Auburn (7-2, 4-2) will stay highly ranked for this year’s Iron Bowl as the cross-state trip will likely serve as the Crimson Tide’s only resume win.
“We’re just going to control what we can control, and we’re going to work,” outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings said. “I mean, it don’t stop here. We’re still going to do what we do. We’re going to go back to work on Monday, and we’re going to finish this season strong.”
While things are not great for Alabama, they could certainly be worse. The Crimson Tide trailed LSU 33-13 at the half and appeared to be on its way to a meltdown inside of Bryant-Denny Stadium. Instead, Alabama was able to battle back to trim the deficit to one score and came a failed onside kick away from a potential game-winning drive.
“At least we gave ourselves a chance to win in terms of the way we fought back in the game. I’m really proud of us for that,” Saban said. “As an organization, starting with me and everybody else, we need to learn from this, do a better job, give our players a better chance to be successful. And out players have got to take advantage of that by going out and executing and making the kind of choices and decisions that are going to help them be the best players that they can be. I think there’s a lot to be learned from that in this game.”
While the moral loss won’t help Alabama in the SEC standings, it could end up being the Crimson Tide’s saving grace in the final College Football Playoff rankings.
“I feel like we made a big statement,” offensive lineman Jedrick Wills Jr. said. “I feel like we really showed what we can do, show that we are a good team. But it was just too late.”
Added running back Najee Harris: “I don’t know. The second half was important. Obviously stuff didn’t work out, but I don’t know, man.”
Alabama’s not the only top-four team to lose Saturday. Earlier in the day, No. 4 Penn State was upset by Minnesota 31-26. Meanwhile, No. 1 Ohio State beat unranked Maryland 73-14.
When asked if he was still optimistic of Alabama’s chances moving forward, Jennings responded with a resounding, “Hell yeah!”
Alabama travels to Mississippi State next Saturday for an 11 a.m. CT kickoff. The game will be televised on ESPN.
“This games’ over, we can’t take it back,” Harris said. “So tomorrow we’ll watch the good, bad and ugly and see what we can work on, see what we did good, see what we did bad. After that, forget about everything, move on to the next game and try to execute each game by winning and see what happens after that.”