Now is not the time to boast

Published 12:20 am Sunday, November 9, 2008

For Alabama fans, now is the time to be wary.

Two games out from the SEC title game — assured by Saturday’s overtime win over LSU — it appears there are no speed traps or bumps on the horizon for No. 1 Alabama.

But that’s what the 1980 team thought too. Allow me to provide a brief history lesson.

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Fresh off national title in 1979 — No. 6 under Paul “Bear” Bryant — the Tide entered 1980 atop the polls and rolled to a 7-0 start.

Alabama was primed for a remarkable 3-peat as it traveled to Jackson, Miss. to take on Mississippi State.

Notre Dame was the only noticeable speed bump on the schedule the rest of way and Bo Jackson had yet to grace the Plains at Auburn.

Then the Bulldogs eeked out a 6-3 win.

Some in attendance claimed the win was the hand of God, though the 1980 Bulldogs fielded a better product than the team Alabama will face on Saturday. The Tide was just a part of Mississippi State’s 5-game winning streak to cap a 9-2 campaign and advance to the Sun Bowl.

The Tide had a better fate ahead, but not the destiny it had sought. A 30-2 Cotton Bowl win over Baylor just couldn’t provide enough salve for a team that let history slip away.

The loss to the Bulldogs handed the 1980 SEC title to Georgia, who would go on to claim the national title by beating the other team the Tide fell to — Notre Dame.

Now, fast forward to 2008. The Tide is No. 1 again, and who’s next on the schedule? Mississippi State.

Is it unlikely that ‘Bama will fall to the Bulldogs? Of course. In fact, the mere suggestion is laughable. Predict a Mississippi State win to anyone in this state and an odd look will be returned.

MSU has not caught the breaks it did on its way to the Liberty Bowl in 2007, and this is not the same Alabama team that fell to the Bulldogs the last two years.

But the Bulldogs are coming off a bye week, the win over LSU was emotional, and any opponent sandwiched between LSU and Auburn has a shot.

And one never knows when the hand of God will strike.