1. DEC. 5, 2009: SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: ALABAMA 32, FLORIDA 13 (Atlanta): Greg McElroy, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Marquiz Maze were just a few of the Crimson Tide standouts that spurred a thorough shellacking of Urban Meyer’s powerful Florida team led by legendary quarterback Tim Tebow. The convincing win not only allowed Saban’s team to gain a huge measure of payback for a 31-20 loss to the Gators in the 2008 conference title game, but the contest also proved that there was a new sheriff in town in terms of SEC and national supremacy and it set the stage for the first of four national title game appearances thus far for Alabama under Saban. Of course Alabama went on to win the 2009 BCS title by defeating Texas in Pasadena, but many consider the win over the Gators to be one of the pivotal victories in the history of the Crimson Tide program.
2. JAN. 11, 2016: COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: ALABAMA 45, CLEMSON 40 (Phoenix, Arizona): Although all of Alabama’s national title-winning triumphs are obviously sweet for Crimson Tide fans in their own unique way, the one that resulted in UA’s 16th and most recent crown may have been the sweetest under Saban, simply because it was a tougher test than the rest of them and it was also against arguably the strongest foe that Alabama has encountered in a national championship game under the Tide's current coach. With a 13-1 and No. 2 ranked Crimson Tide pitted against Dabo Swinney’s 14-0 and No. 1 ranked Clemson team, forecasters expected this to be a very competitive tilt at the very least. What resulted, however, was a game for the ages and surely one of the greatest college football games of all times. A Tide team known for its resiliency, however, survived a mammoth test against Deshaun Watson and company to cement Alabama’s dynasty under Saban, with its fourth national title in seven years. The efforts of Tide standouts such as Jake Coker, Derrick Henry, Kenyan Drake and Marlon Humphrey will not soon be forgotten by the Crimson Nation.
3. DEC. 1, 2012: SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: ALABAMA 32, GEORGIA 28 (Atlanta): Alabama entered this conference title game showdown against Mark Richt’s Bulldogs looking to cement a place in the BCS title game against Notre Dame, with an opportunity to win its second consecutive national championship. It would not be easy for Alabama, however, as it had to survive an epic back-and-forth struggle against quarterback Aaron Murray and a Georgia team also talented enough to win a BCS title in its own right. Georgia kept the Tide on its heels the entire way behind the play of Murray, Todd Gurley, Tavarres King and others, but Alabama used the heroic efforts of tailbacks Eddie Lacy and T.J Yeldon and freshman receiver Amari Cooper, plus a fortunate tip on a late Georgia pass as the Bulldogs were trying to pull the game out late, to seal another conference crown and a BCS title matchup against the Fighting Irish.
4. OCT. 24, 2009: ALABAMA 12, TENNESSEE 10 (Tuscaloosa): Saban’s 2009 Crimson Tide team appeared to be a team on a mission, rolling through its first seven games with the closest victory being a 34-24 triumph over Virginia Tech in the season-opener. All of that changed in this traditional rivalry game as Alabama hosted Lane Kiffin’s Volunteers at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Tennessee entered the game with an unimpressive 3-3 record, but it gave Alabama all it wanted and more on this day. Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram rambled for 99 yards for Alabama in the game, but Alabama’s offense struggled by and large most of the day, and had to rely on its defense, and two blocked field goals by mammoth defensive lineman Terrence Cody to get past Kiffin’s squad. While it was an ugly win for sure, it allowed the No. 2 Crimson Tide to remain undefeated at 8-0 and keep its SEC and national title hopes very much alive.
5. SEPT. 27, 2008: ALABAMA 41, GEORGIA 30 (Athens): Another important victory by the Crimson Tide over Richt’s Bulldogs, but this one came between the hedges at a packed Sanford Stadium, with ESPN on hand to broadcast the contest to a national TV audience. The game was billed as a “blackout” for the Bulldogs, with the Georgia team dressed in black jerseys and many of its 92,000-plus fans also wearing black for the game. However, an Alabama team just beginning to emerge as a national and SEC power under Saban took the fun out of the game early for the Bulldog Nation, jumping to a 10-0 lead after the first quarter and swelling that advantage to 31-0 by the intermission. Georgia did its best to rally in the second half, outscoring the Crimson Tide 30-10 after halftime, but it was ultimately too big of a hole for the Bulldogs to dig out of. Quarterback John Parker Wilson, tailback Glen Coffee and receiver Julio Jones led the way for the Crimson Tide in the huge signature road triumph for Saban’s up and coming Tide program.
Five biggest Crimson Tide football wins during the Nick Saban era (via Crimson Magazine) Featured
By Stan J. Griffin: June 28, 2016
Four national championships and four Southeastern Conference titles.
A record of 98-12.
Two Heisman Trophy winners.
Six consecutive recruiting titles.
A 50-6 overall record over the last four years.
37 first-team All-Americans
48 players drafted into the National Football League, with 17 of those being first-round selections.
Utilizing any type of measuring standard, those are certainly dazzling numbers for any college football coach, and many of those figures would cement an impressive career legacy for an individual in the coaching profession, even if he elected to never lead another game from the sidelines.
University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban, of course, has achieved those gaudy numbers and many more phenomenal ones in his first nine years of leading the tradition-rich Crimson Tide program, and he, and his legendary “process,” show no signs of slowing down anytime soon, with many analysts forecasting Alabama to win another national title in 2016.
That remains to be seen, but whether you like Saban or despise him, you have to respect the record, and he has unquestionably secured his place in the annals of college football as one of the greatest coaches ever, along with legends such as Paul “Bear” Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Eddie Robinson.
Saban’s Alabama teams have certainly won their share of huge games since his arrival to Tuscaloosa in 2007, and I thought I would take a shot at narrowing down the five greatest Crimson Tide victories during his remarkable UA tenure:
I am a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where I currently reside and work. I am doing regular sports and feature writing for the Tuscaloosa-based Druid City Living and also am the Alabama beat writer for Crimson Magazine. I am a 1993 graduate of the University of Alabama, where I wrote for The Crimson White. I have an extensive background in newspaper journalism, having served as a sports editor and reporter for the Delta Democrat Times, St. Clair News-Aegis, Andalusia Star-News and the St. Clair County News.
I also have my own sports blog site, The Sports Connection, which I partner on with a friend of mine, and we began this site in November of 2012. I write blog on a variety of sports subject, and have also had guest contributors write their own blogs for the site. I have interviewed prominent sports figures for the site, including Paul Finebaum of the new SEC Network.Website: www.linkedin.com/in/stan-griffin-10506923