Ranking all 19 of Nick Saban’s losses at Bama by how happy they’ve made the world
Take this as a compliment, Bama fan. Your team is in the middle of probably the greatest dynasty in college football history (minus the "probably"), and your coach has so few losses (he’s 114-19 at Bama) that almost all of them are memorable by average fans.
Enjoyed by devoted Bama haters
19. 41-34 vs. No. 1 (using final AP record for each opponent, rather than record at kickoff) LSU in 2007
18. 26-23 in OT vs. No. 2 Georgia in 2007
17. 17-10 at No. 15 Auburn in 2007
16. 17-12 at Mississippi State in 2007
15. 21-14 vs. Florida State in 2007
Almost all of Bama’s losses in Saban’s first year are forgivable and forgettable. The roster was in relative shambles, and the Tide could’ve gone much better than 7-6 against a lighter schedule. Each of these was close and against a Power 5 bowl team.
14. 9-6 in OT vs. No. 2 LSU in 2011
Maybe this decade’s most-hyped regular season game? It was a dud for all but the heartiest trench-ball watchers, and Bama would avenge this close loss with a BCS Championship blowout anyway.
13. 31-20 vs. No. 1 Florida in 2008
Reaching 12-0 and the SEC Championship in Year 2, then losing to the soon-to-be two-time national champs? Nothing wrong with that.
Brought smiles to faces nationwide
12. 24-21 at No. 8 LSU in 2010
Not humiliating, but Bama was the defending national champ, and everybody likes it when the defending national champ loses.
11. 29-24 vs. No. 5 Texas A&M in 2012
All the way down here?! I know! Though this was maybe the game of the year, and though an all-out offense seemingly exposed Saban’s defense forever, it was fleeting happiness. Bama won the title anyway and later adapted to spread ball just fine.
But we’ll always have this nonsense:
10. 45-31 vs. No. 6 Oklahoma in 2013
People loved this one, and the fact that it made for a two-game losing streak delivered delight, as did Bob Stoops’ ensuing Paul Heyman impression. But it only added to the schadenfreude tsunami that was the top game on our list, rather than truly standing on its own.
9. 35-21 at No. 22 South Carolina in 2010
As Ryan Nanni and Doug Gillett said on the Shutdown Fullcast, in which a question from one of our listeners brought up this topic:
"I’m going to give you a passing line from an Alabama opponent, and I want you to guess the game: 17 of completions on 20 attempts, 201 passing yards, one interception, three touchdowns. That’s Stephen Garcia going 17 of damn 20 against an Alabama defense. Stephen Garcia’s from Tampa and loves to drink."
"That performance was kind of like in Old School, when Will Ferrell answers the very difficult debate question, and everyone’s like, ‘Wow, that was amazing,’ and he’s like, ‘Whoa, what happened? Where was I?’"
8. 42-35 vs. No. 1 Ohio State in 2014
Bama getting booted from the first-ever Playoff by a third-string QB and a team that many felt should’ve ranked No. 6 at the time? That’s heart-warming, but Ohio State doing it by running all over Bama’s ass, rather than by throwing it around or doing anything fancy, is what filled the soul.
7. 31-17 vs. No. 2 Utah in 2008
More shocking than the final score looks. The 9.5-point-underdog mid-majors cracked open a 21-0 lead as FOX Sports’ Daryl Johnston could only repeat, "Wow! Wow!" on air. The Utes leaped from AP No. 7 to final No. 2, with 16 first-place votes.
6. 23-17 at No. 17 Ole Miss in 2014
5. 43-37 vs. No. 10 Ole Miss in 2015
These two amplify each other. Saban assumes FINAL BOSS FORM in revenge games, and Ole Miss hadn’t beaten Bama since 2003, hadn’t won in Tuscaloosa since 1988, and had never beaten the Tide back-to-back. I still can’t believe this happened, even though we found proof by tracking the goalposts throughout Oxford.
Hearts sang throughout the galaxy
The Warhawks have had two all-time I-A/FBS winning seasons. Their budget is smaller than plenty of FCS schools. They went 5-6 otherwise this year and lost to 2-10 North Texas. No matter the context at the time, this result will bring joy to onlookers for all eternity.
3. 28-27 vs. No. 1 Auburn in 2010
Bama was up by 24, flying like Liu Kang into the middle of Auburn’s astounding trapeze act, with the hated Cam Newton being humbled after Alabama’s PA had played "Take the Money and Run" and "Son of a Preacher Man" (references to ongoing NCAA allegations), and the student section had thrown these onto the field ...
... and Auburn won lmao.
2. 35-31 vs. No. 1 Clemson in 2016
Saban’s first-ever loss in a National Championship snuffed out a season that would’ve had a numerical case to rank as the greatest ever: being the first to go wire-to-wire as AP No. 1 in a 15-game season. Saban’s Tide finished one grueling second away from their fifth title in a decade and virtually undisputed status as the greatest dynasty ever.
And unlike most Bama losses, it slammed the door on any potential for a Zombie Tide championship later in the season.
And it came after Bama had built a 14-0 lead.
And it came at the expense of a Bama product who’s Saban’s personality opposite.