I don’t doubt Nick Saban.
Throughout my years covering sports, I’ve learned many things: It’s all about the money, I don’t doubt Tom Brady, and I don’t doubt Nick Saban.
Nick Saban is the best college football coach of all-time — and it’s not even that close. What he’s accomplished at Alabama, winning 5 National Championships in 9 years, is eerily similar to the success Brady, Belichick, and the Patriots have had. And that’s what allows Saban to make questionable, bold, even controversial moves.
Monday night was no different.
Down 13-0 at halftime, Saban’s squad was struggling offensively. They had amassed 21 yards through the air and converted just 4 first downs. That’s when Saban handed the ball to true-freshman, Tua Tagovailoa. Until that moment, the Hawaiian native had only appeared in mop-up duty in lopsided Alabama victories. Pegged as a “gunslinger”, Tagovailoa played well in his 7 brief appearances, throwing 8 touchdowns and just 1 interception.
But Monday night, it was time to sink or swim, on the world’s biggest stage. Oh did he swim. Tagovailoa, aka Alabama’s savior, made the 3 biggest plays of the game:
1.) On his 2nd drive, Tagovailoa faced a 3rd & 7. He scrambled right, nearly getting sacked. After breaking not 1, not 2, but 3 tackles, Tagovailoa bounced back to the left, gaining 9 yards for a crucial 1st down. This changed the complexion of the entire game. It kept Alabama from going ‘3 & out’ on consecutive drives. It gave Tagovailoa confidence. And it led to an Alabama touchdown, pulling them within 1 score (13-7).
2.) Fast forward to 3 minutes and 56 seconds left in the game. Imagine being under center, down 7 points, on 4th & 4 from the opponents 7-yard line. Now imagine throwing an absolute strike to Calvin Ridley for the game tying touchdown (20-20). Now wake up, because that wasn’t you. It was Tua Tagovailoa, and he’s living the dream.
Watch the play here.
3.) And last, but CERTAINLY not least, the final play of the game. After Georgia’s kicker, Rodrigo Blankenship, nailed a 51-yard field goal, Tagovailoa and Alabama found themselves down 23-20. Fail to score and go home. Kick a field goal and head to a 2nd overtime. Score a touchdown and win the National Championship. After an atrocious sack, Alabama was staring 2nd & 26 in the face. Have no fear, Tua is here. As he dropped back, the world could see DeVonta Smith inexplicably get behind Georgia’s secondary. Tagovailoa hit Smith, in stride, for a 41-yard, game winning touchdown.
Watch the play here.
Tagovailoa only had to pull off that miracle because his kicker came down with a case of the ‘shanks’. With 3 seconds left in regulation, Andy Pappanastos had a game-winning, 36-yard field goal attempt. Trust me when I say this was the worst field goal attempt I’ve ever seen — ever. This was Pappanastos’ 2nd missed field goal of the night. Clearly he wasn’t on his game. Luckily for Nick Saban, and Alabama, Tagovailoa was.
Was this the best National Championship you’ve ever seen?? Did you even stay awake long enough to see it?? Tell me in the comment section below.
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