If Alabama wasn't firmly in the drivers seat for No. 1 and a spot in the national championship game, the Crimson Tide are definitely sitting there now after last weekend's 21-17 win over LSU in Baton Rouge.
On the other hand, in getting the come from behind victory, 'Bama didn't exactly look like the big hairy winning machine that we had witnessed demolishing opponents in the first half of the year.
After watching the Tide's narrow escape, are you more or less impressed with Nick Saban's team?
Kevin McGuire: As I was watching Alabama take on LSU Saturday night I was reminded of a scene in Rocky IV, when Rocky Balboa finally gets some momentum in the final fight against the Soviet Union's Ivan Drago, a specimen finely crafted for one reason and one reason only. ("If he dies, he dies.") Rocky lands a couple of jabs on Drago and does what few have been able to do, cut him. Rocky retreats to his corner to be coached by Duke, who tells Rocky that Drago is not a machine, but that "He's a man!" (no, he is not 40). Alabama was Ivan Drago Saturday night, but in this instance there was time for one final knockout punch from the seemingly unstoppable force.
LSU figured to be the stiffest test to counter Alabama, and the Tigers seemed like the only team capable of being able to land some punches on the Crimson Tide. Things started well for Alabama, but the second half saw LSU seize the momentum the way few teams may be able to do against Alabama. Did we see some holes pointed out by the Tigers? Yes, but how many teams will be able to exploit them the way LSU was able to do? When it comes down to it, a team will still have to physically wear down Alabama, and I am not sure how many teams Alabama could face before the end of the season will be able to do that over four quarters.
Am I impressed? Yes, with the way things looked so bleak and Alabama found a way to put it all behind them and do what needed to be done in the clutch. That is the characteristic of a championship team. Alabama certainly is a championship team.
Michael Felder: I want to say neither up or down.
LSU was the impressive case for me, because even though the Tigers lost, they actually used a gameplan for the game against the Tide – something they had not done all season long. They self-scouted, went off tendency and surprised Alabama with unfamiliar looks.
Saban did what Saban does; took the opponent's best shot and then countered with his own to win the game. This team is the best in the nation and where other people see "weakness" I see strength. Oregon and Kansas State aren't duplicating that LSU gameplan. They aren't moving the Tide bodies around. They aren't shoving the ball down Bama's throat with straight gives and man-on blocking.
I guess I'll say, to answer the question, I'm impressed. They took a shot from one of the very few, perhaps only, roster that's as good as their own and still came out winners. That's solid.
John Walters: I agree. It didn't change the game for me.
Allen Kenney: I think my takeaway is relatively in line with everyone else.
I don't exactly have the same reverence for Alabama after this game that I did coming in. While A.J. McCarron became the story after the game, the truth is that the Tigers' defense made him look relatively pedestrian. Defensively, LSU showed that the Tide aren't as good against the pass as they've been billed to be.
Even so, 'Bama showed an impressive level of testicular fortitude and resolve in the win. Pulling out a come from behind victory in the last minute in a pulsing stadium full of liquored-up Cajuns is a feat that few teams could pull off.
We learned that 'Bama certainly can be beaten, but also that it seems even more unlikely now.