ATLANTA — For the first time in four years, Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide are not in Atlanta on the first weekend of December.
SEC Network analyst Marcus Spears, for one, is happy to see them stay home, saying “it’s kinda exciting not to have ‘Bama back.”
“Look, I’m all about dynasties,” Spears told SEC Country on Friday. “If you can be the best for a long time, do it. But for us in the media and for everybody that’s interested in the game, I think it’s good to have different faces … I recall the past three years being at this game, we tried to create a buzz, but we knew who was going to win the game. We knew what was going to happen before it started.”
Spears, a former LSU defensive lineman under Saban and a 9-year NFL veteran, offered support for Alabama’s College Football Playoff chances, but also voiced concerns about quarterback Jalen Hurts’ passing ability.
“The reason people say Jalen Hurts is not a good passer, is because when he’s forced to pass in situations where it’s uncomfortable, they struggle at doing it,” Spears said. ” … They talk about the play that Jalen made against Clemson (in January) where they should’ve won the game. But nobody talks about the four possessions before that where they couldn’t pick up a first down. The same thing happened against Auburn. I don’t know how you fix that.”
Regardless of Alabama’s questions in the passing game, Spears thinks the Tide should be in the final four if there’s an upset on Saturday.
He pointed to last December, when one-loss Ohio State missed the Big Ten title game but still found a way into the field.
“I just don’t see TCU or Ohio State jumping Alabama if they win. If they do, then the playoff committee is gonna have to tell me what happened with Penn State last year,” Spears said. “You had the exact same scenario last year. Penn State got blasted on the road against Michigan. They had two losses. Went to the Big Ten championship and won it. And Ohio State went. Simple as that. Tell everybody, don’t make it difficult: If TCU or Ohio State wins, Alabama is gonna get into the playoff.”
If Alabama sneaks into the field, there’s a chance the Tide would square off against Auburn again. If that happens, Spears indicated he has faith in his former coach.
“History tells me that if you play Nick Saban twice,” he said, “it won’t happen like it happened the first time.”
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