Alabama’s defense is so ridiculously talented and utterly dominant that the only thing it can be compared to right now is playing on the “Heisman” skill level in the late NCAA Football video game series.
If you love and miss the game as much as I do (may it rest in peace), you know what I’m talking about.
After mastering “All-American” mode each summer following the game’s annual release, you’d say to yourself, “This is the year I’m finally going to win a national title on Heisman level,” only to have the game quickly refresh your memory on how impossible that is.
If you don’t believe me, break out the PlayStation and try beating Alabama on it.
Every running play is like smashing into a brick wall at the line of scrimmage. Every pass over two yards is either incomplete or intercepted — and that’s if you’re lucky enough to actually get the throw off before the Tide rips through your offensive line like a wet paper bag and sacks you.
That’s what Alabama’s real-life defense has been like the last two weeks, having scored almost as many touchdowns (2) as it’s given up (3) against two of the best offenses in the country (the D would have allowed just two touchdowns if Alabama’s offense hadn’t turned the ball over at its own 11-yard line vs. Tennessee).
The Tide’s defense started the season replacing five starters in the front seven and playing on “Varsity” mode, as evidenced by the 43 points Ole Miss scored in Week 3. Nick Saban turned the settings up to “All-American” as the Crimson Tide held Kent State and Kentucky to a combined six points and finally cranked it up to “Heisman” after giving up 30 points to Arkansas.
On Saturday, defensive lineman Jonathan Allen did things that were so absurd they looked like video game glitches. That includes a sack in the first half in which Allen shook an offensive lineman almost out of his shoes and then leapt over Aggies running back Trayveon Williams to take down Trevor Knight.
Allen followed that up with a second half touchdown in which he scooped and scored on a fumble recovery while looking like a 300-pound halfback in the process for Alabama’s 12th non-offensive touchdown of the season.
Just look at the embarrassment of riches Saban has at his disposal that led one NFL executive to recently say Alabama’s entire front seven will be drafted in the first or second round of the NFL draft.
There’s Allen, who’s like NCAA Football’s “Create a Player” option with his blend of size and speed and will be a top-10 pick in the draft. There’s linebackers Tim Williams and Reuben Foster, who both look sculpted from marble and will hear their names called shortly after Allen’s. And there’s Marlon Humphrey, considered by many the best cornerback in the draft, who just-so-happens to run for Alabama’s track team.
It’s true that losing safety Eddie Jackson for the rest of the season with a broken leg is a big blow for the Crimson Tide. But based on Saban’s track record, I fully expect replacement Tony Brown to step in and have a near-seamless transition (naturally, Brown was once a top-10 high school recruit in the nation).
If this was a video game, this would be the point where you’d scream at the computer to stop cheating, throw your controller at the TV screen and turn off the game.
Right about now I’m sure opposing SEC coaches wish they had that option.
— Written by Jim Weber, a veteran college sports journalist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. Weber has written for CBS Sports Network, NBCSports.com, ESPN the Magazine and the college sports website he founded and sold, LostLettermen.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JimMWeber.