Three years ago, when Auburn completed a stunning, how-did-that-happen 28-27 win over Alabama, Nick Saban made sure to remind his players of that fact every single day and challenged them to never let it happen again.
It happened again.
Auburn rallied from a 28-21 deficit for an even more stunning, did-that-really-just-happen 34-28 to knock the Crimson Tide from the national and SEC championship picture. In one second (of game time), Alabama went from the prohibitive favorites for a third straight national title to second place in its own division. Then, on Jan. 2, Saban’s team followed the Auburn loss with its worst performance since the 2009 Sugar Bowl, losing 45-31 to heavy underdog Oklahoma.
A team that allowed 102 points in 11 games suddenly surrendered 79 points in its final two. The Tide fell from 11-0 to 11-2, and Saban isn’t letting his players forget it. Saban said following the season that the 2013 team had forgotten the effort it takes to win every single game, and the 2014 team starts the year getting its nose rubbed in that fact.
Hanging in the Alabama locker room Tuesday was this: