Well, that was certainly a football game against Alabama. We’ve been there before, and yes, this one did feel encouraging at times with pockets of hope floating amongst the charred rubble and magma rivers, but it remains a, uh, rather sizable three-touchdown loss.
To clarify: this isn’t about pessimism. This Aggie team is very good, and is capable of beating any team left on the schedule. Jimbo Fisher has implemented a solid program and we’ve seen marked improvements all over the field. This is about finding solace in commiseration, because Bama is frightening as hell.
So the big existential question remains each time a team encounters this fate: at what point did you just throw up your hands with resignation and disgust on this game? Not “when did you give up on the team,” because as Aggies, we of course would never do that. But...when did it dawn on you that no amount of good fortune could help us overcome this horrifying football machine?
MISERY LOVES COMPANY
This week’s very special and miserable guest is our pal Jim Lohmar over at Red Cup Rebellion.
Alabama lashed Ole Miss soundly last week, 62-7, and then had their way with Texas A&M this week, 45-23. Personally, as a for the most part Ole Miss fan and writer, viewing nausea set in at the sheer inevitability of a blowout sometime midway through the second quarter of the Rebels’ immolation at the hands of the Tide.
There’s just no stopping this Nick Saban outfit in 2018. Tua Tagovailoa has progressed apparently miles since we saw him for just two quarters in last year’s title game. There was a stretch in the third quarter against TAMU that Bama dialed up three downfield passing plays in a row, which is something I’m not sure I’ve ever seen from a Saban shop before. The first and third attempts succeeded, and the Tide soon scored on a short run to the left pylon for their penultimate TD.
And it’s not just that you can’t stop them. They score and eat up yards so effortlessly, both on the ground and especially through the air. It just keeps going. Their 2-Deep? Yeah it’s still plugged with four- and five-star guys all the way down board. Their backup quarterback is Jalen Hurts. The horror of Alabama football this year -- and especially regarding the scoring attack -- is that they can’t help but score points.
It’s asinine, in the radical sense: like a damn dumb donkey, point it in one direction and it’ll walk that way forever until somebody stops it. And nobody can stop it.
Louisville couldn’t. Ole Miss certainly couldn’t. And A&M couldn’t. Alabama was averaging 47.3 points in margin of victory entering Saturday’s drubbing in Tuscaloosa. The Tide was favored by 26.5 points! Against a ranked opponent! Mercy.
But watching Saban Inc. dismantle TAMU with the same mechanical precision conjured up memories of last week’s nuking in Oxford. The constant, unending offensive movement. The touchdowns. The other touchdowns. The other other touchdowns. It became too much.
I watched the Ole Miss-Alabama game in Jacksonville, Fla. in the midst of a hurricane evacuation. Like the fine boys at Good Bull Hunting, I held perhaps a flicker of hope that Ole Miss could pull off a win in a high scoring affair, and certainly the first 11 seconds of that game affirmed my sneaking confidence.
Seventy seconds later Bama scored a touchdown and they would go on to score 55 more points. Ole Miss wouldn’t even sniff the end zone. As I said, I was done with the game before halftime.
Some might argue that turning off a Bama game before halftime is disrespectful to the Tide, but to them I say that Nick Saban is such a stolid curmudgeon that he’d prefer nobody watching the Tide. Watching the Tide entails eatable game tape and background information on scheme and personnel. Saban doesn’t even want Bama fans watching tape. No tape is a competitive advantage, and so by changing the channel I was respecting Nick Saban’s process.
All of this is to say that in watching both the Ole Miss and TAMU losses to Alabama this year, I asked Camacho here exactly when in the course of Saturday’s proceedings he grew too fed up and disgusted to continue watching the game.
I’ll hang up and listen.
For me? I think it was the Very Sad Field Goal that cut the lead to 38-16. It was fourth and 3 or 4, the ball was well inside the red zone, and the team sorely needed an infusion of confidence. Minutes later Bama went 90+ yards in two plays to go up 45-16 with two minutes left in the third in what cuppycup called:
The end of the easiest 92-yard drive of all time in the 3rd quarter. The pitch to Ruggs that he jogged in for a TD.
Just brutal. Suffering through Alabama every year is crushing and deflating. Utterly exhausting. This game didn’t even have the decency to let us abandon hope in the first half (hey, wait..isn’t this good? is it though?). We did just enough to hang around for quite a while just barely technically within reach if everything went our way. It most certainly did not.
Within the span of a minute at the beginning of the game and the end of the first half, then again at the end of the third quarter, Bama delivered a series of hammerblows that none of our dogged determination or counterpunching in the intervening 40-ish minutes could overcome. Then the fourth quarter gently stepped on our throats.
There is always that moment in an Alabama game. A tiny window where you can actually feel it slipping away. When your eyes drill holes into the TV and you are willing something freakish and errant to happen: an Alabama fumble, a tipped pass, a careless mistake by a Tide player or missed assignment. And it never happens. Never. It is a killing machine, and is not going to relinquish control so close to the end.
It could have gone better. And it could have gone much worse. It’s a timely reminder that the Jimbo Project is still a ways from being fully implemented. Things are better than they were overall, but they’re not where they eventually will be yet. The good news is, we don’t have to dread this game for another twelve months or so.
When were you overwhelmed this time? When do we think our optimism will last all 60 minutes again?