The Alabama Crimson Tide went into last weekend as the No. 1 team in the nation and a clear favorite to run the table and compete for yet another national title. And then Texas A&M kicker Seth Small made a 28-yard field goal as time expired to complete a shocking upset.

While there hasn’t been the usual “Alabama’s dynasty is dead” rhetoric in the wake of the loss, there is certainly a sense that the Tide aren’t the world-beaters we’ve seen them be in the past. Quite a few people have called Alabama out for not being the elite team in 2021 that they’ve often been, and that apparently includes head coach Nick Saban.

Discussing the Texas A&M loss on his weekly radio call-in show, Saban said that sees that Alabama isn’t being viewed as an elite team anymore.

“I feel like, in a lot of ways, (after) this past game, we’re no longer viewed as an elite team,” Saban said. “So what I’m hopeful of is that our players are gonna respond in a way that they go out and play with more consistency. I hope everybody supports them positively.”

Now, Nick Saban is nothing if not a master motivator, so this message may have been more for his players than anyone else. Alabama players have certainly been hearing about how they’re not as good as people thought and whatever motivation they need to prove that wrong in the weeks ahead is what Saban is going to lean into.

The Tide don’t have it too easy in the weeks ahead. Five of their six remaining games are against SEC teams, including No. 17 Arkansas and Auburn. And if they win the division, they’ll presumably have to take on No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.

Basically, Alabama needs to win out to ensure its spot in the College Football Playoff, which would make sure people once again see them as elite. So consider the gauntlet thrown down.

[Charlie Potter, Saturday Down South]

About Sean Keeley

Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and many other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle.