Alabama Played Their Most Complete Performance in Final Game:
With Saturday’s dominant 45-20 Sugar Bowl victory over Kansas State, Alabama’s 2022 season will officially be remembered as what could have been. It really felt like for the first time all year, this team played up to how they were capable of playing, and the result was their best game of the year by far against a solid opponent. While that may be frustrating now, it was certainly nice to see the Crimson Tide end their season, and the careers of some of their greatest players ever, on a high note.
It almost seemed like Nick Saban knew what was coming by his words leading up to the game. He consistently went out of his way to praise the players efforts and attitudes leading up to the game, even calling the bowl preparation by far the best non-playoff bowl prep he has ever been a part of. There were no opt-outs. The guys who were there wanted to be there. And they looked the part on the field.
When Deuce Vaughn sprinted 88 yards to the end zone to put the Wildcats up 10-0, there was a collective groan from Alabama fans that screamed “here we go again”, with it looking like the last two times they played in non-playoff Sugar Bowls, losses to Oklahoma and Utah. But instead of rolling over, the Tide went on a 45-10 scoring run for the remainder of the game during which they looked as good on both sides of the ball as they have all season.
Bryce Young was a bit shaky to start the game, but would torch the Wildcats defense all afternoon. The defense was a little leaky early too, but a stop at the end of the half on the goal line which led to a 98 yard drive from Young and the offense carried momentum into the second half, which was never close.
One thing that Alabama fans should be extremely encouraged about from this game is that the receiver group as a whole, who we were told all year long was not good enough, collectively had a massive game and all will be returning next season. Bryce Young threw touchdowns to five different players, and all but TE Cameron Latu will be back. A receiver group of Ja’Corey Brooks, Jermaine Burton (who just played his best game of the year), Isaiah Bond, Kobe Prentice, and Kendrick Law should be more than enough.
Alabama didn’t take care of their business and didn’t deserve to go to the playoff. Whether they were one of the best four teams is up for debate, but they had their chances and didn’t take them. But while some have claimed the sky is falling, I think this game showed the opposite. The Alabama standard remains, and the Crimson Tide will be right back in the thick of things next season.