It’s not like Nick Saban needs any advice on how to win a BCS Championship, but watching Florida in the Sugar Bowl is a good place to see what not to do.
Saban and Alabama were in a similar position as Florida when the Tide played heavy underdog Utah and lost 31-17.
It’s hard to believe the Crimson Tide would have a letdown, but you would be hard-pressed to find anyone outside of Louisville who thought the Cardinals could pull off the beat down they put on the Gators.
The best thing going for Alabama is that Saban won’t have a coaching meltdown like Will Muschamp, who was totally outclassed by Charlie Strong.
Still, here are five things Alabama should have learned from the Gators’ surprising loss to Louisville when the Tide face Notre Dame on Monday.
1. Stay composed.
You can forgive Florida for losing big, but the Gators should be ashamed for their lack of class in losing.
The Gators were flagged for multiple personal fouls, Chris Johnson was ejected for throwing a punch, and they finished with 98 yards on nine penalties.
If you give Notre Dame this many free yards, then the Irish will capitalize on it.
2. Don’t give up big plays.
Florida’s John Brantley opened up the game by throwing a pick six and Louisville rolled from there.
Alabama can’t give up any quick scores to the Irish. Notre Dame’s offense should have trouble moving the ball on the Tide. But if Alabama must play catch up football that could be tough going against the Irish defense.
3. Keep the other team’s superstar from dominating.
For Louisville, it was quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. It’s linebacker Manti Te’o at Notre Dame.
Te’o makes big-time plays and he won’t be in awe of that great SEC speed. He’s an emotional leader. He’s going to be tough to stop because of Notre Dame’s outstanding front seven.
Alabama can’t let Te’o make too many big hits or create turnovers. If he does, that will take a lot of pressure off of the Irish’s very average offense.
4. Don’t underestimate a motivated opponent.
Louisville was a 14.5-point underdog, while ND is a 9.5-point underdog.
When you spend a month listening to how you are supposed to easily win the game you start to believe the hype a little too much. Even a Saban-coached team can’t avoid it.
Florida wasn’t a team bummed to be going to the Sugar Bowl. The Gators thought they would show up and the SEC-mystique would overwhelm the Cardinals.
If Notre Dame jumps on Alabama early, watch out.
5. Check the SEC arrogance at the door.
We all know the SEC is going for its seventh-consecutive BCS championship and Alabama is looking to win three of the last four.
There’s no question a certain amount of arrogance surrounds the Crimson Tide (and deservedly so). But that confidence can also create a belief that you can’t lose.