When does a win not really feel like a win? When you're ranked No. 1 and are 21.5-point favorites but play the sloppiest game under the best coach in the sport's history.
Alabama escaped the clutches of unranked Texas 20-19 on the foot of a Will Reichard 33-yard field goal with 10 seconds left. Reichard's field goal capped off a frantic six-play, 61-yard drive that covered 1:19 and saw reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young throw for 38 yards and rush for 23. Those 79 seconds were essentially the only enjoyable seconds of what is one of the most surprising and uncharacteristic games of coach Nick Saban's career.when top-ranked
The Crimson Tide committed 15 penalties for 100 yards in the game -- the most penalties that Alabama has committed under Saban, eclipsing the 13 penalties for 96 yards that it had in the 2019 Iron Bowl loss to Auburn. Eleven of those penalties came in the first half, which is also a record for Alabama under Saban. It was the most times Alabama was penalized since it was flagged 16 times vs. Middle Tennessee in 2002.
As if that wasn't enough, the 15 accepted penalties are the most a Saban-coached college team has committed since he took over LSU in 2000.
If that doesn't concern Crimson Tide fans, I'm not sure what does.
Saban's calling card from the moment he stepped foot on campus in 2007 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, has been his attention to detail. It's that commitment to the process that has been the driving force behind Saban's ability to sustain success despite massive roster turnover seemingly every year.
Three of the flags on Alabama were for false starts, and that led to Saban being asked about how much the crowd noise affected his team's discipline. His answer was very telling.
"When you jump offsides on defense that doesn't have to do anything with crowd noise," he said. "When you block a guy in the back, that doesn't have anything to do with crowd noise. A lot of them are undisciplined penalties. We have to be able to manage crowd noise if we want to play in this league ... in the SEC. Every place we play is going to be like this, so this was nothing new."
"When you jump offsides on defense that doesn't have to do anything with crowd noise ... when you block a guy in the back."— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) September 10, 2022
Alabama coach Nick Saban responds to if the amount of penalties had to do with the crowd noise on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/NtShvEeTcQ
The silver lining is that none of those 15 penalties came in the fourth quarter, which was a big reason why Young was able to orchestrate the comeback. Simply put, Saban was fortunate to leave Austin, Texas, undefeated. His team is going to hear all about it on the flight home, during film study and all week in practice in the hopes that it's cleaned up before next week's game vs. UL-Monroe. We'll find out if Alabama retains the No. 1 ranking on Monday when the AP Top 25 comes out. One thing is certain, no matter where the Crimson Tide rank on Monday, it can't play like it did on Saturday and have a chance to win the national title.