If you’d told us yesterday that we’d lose to the Crimson Tide by a touchdown (and 2-point conversion, just to satisfy the well-actually’ers), we would have laughed. This sport is funny that way.
We hate moral victories, but this team has nothing to be ashamed of after tonight’s showing. After watching Alabama demolish Vanderbilt 59-0 and Ole Miss 66-3, playing them this tough was a treat to see. It’s not a win, but it’s not a punch in the gut, either.
When you have #1 come to your house, you’ve got everyone sort of keeping an eye on your game throughout the course of the evening. When they see it’s close late in the game, they’ll keep flipping over to see what the heck is happening. People are always thirsty to see Alabama lose, especially after #3 OU lost to unranked Iowa State earlier today.
Or they want to see why that team that imploded against UCLA in week 1 is now suddenly somehow rallying against Saban’s impenetrable football machine. College football fans are extremely curious, and like to stay on top of memes.
Today did a little bit to erode that meme. This squad played tough, smart football for the most part. They got kicked and punched in the gut and mouth (figuratively, of course, wouldn’t want to Disrespect the Tide by implying dirty play) all night long, and kept popping up for more. If we can play like this the rest of the year we’ll do some nice things. Kellen Mond is growing up every single week, and he made some throws on a full run tonight that a true freshman has no business making, much less completing. The pass defense stepped up. Special teams was strong.
I wasn’t at Kyle Field tonight, but watching it on TV, it was more alive than any iteration of Kyle that we’ve seen in at least a few years. Maybe even since the Johnny days. It was raucous, loud, lively. There was a hum of excitement shaking the air. Being still in the football game against Alabama in the fourth quarter is the reason we signed up for this SEC thing.
But this...this moment right here is what it’s all about. This is why we love college football.
This team has shown an increasing amount of grit and resolve since the UCLA game, and tonight was proof that this is a different team than the one who fell apart in Los Angeles. We’re halfway through the season with trips to The Swamp and Baton Rouge left. A very good Auburn team comes to Kyle in November. We could win any of these games. Hold your head up. Since September of 2016, there’s only been two teams get within one score of Alabama: the first was when Clemson beat them in the national title game in January, and the second was us, just tonight.