It took 10 weeks but someone finally decided to test the Alabama Crimson Tide Football (10-0) team in 2017. As Alabama began the season ranked as the top team, there were whispers of them remaining there due to a soft schedule. Unlike the NFL, the strength of schedule does make a difference in college football.
Saturday night, the Mississippi State Bulldogs gave Nick Saban more than he expected as the Tide squeezed out a tight 31-24 victory on the road. But, what was most impressive was the play of quarterback Jalen Hurts. Hurts is just in his second season as a starter and what failed him in last year’s National Championship game was the necessary experience against the Clemson Tigers. Not the case anymore.
With the Tide down 24-17 in the 4th quarter, Hurts and Alabama started their game-tying drive on their own 18-yard line. Instead of forcing the ball through the air to tie the score, Hurts reverted to his normal calm self, tucked the ball in and rushed for 42 yards on 4 carries. While each run was crucial, Hurts broke the back of the Bulldogs defense with a 4th down run of 13 yards giving the Tide new life.
From there, it became a defensive game. Alabama would go on to miss a field goal and give the Bulldogs a chance at an upset, but Hurts and the offense would not go down without a fight. With the score tied at 24, Alabama saw their chance to claim the top spot in the Playoff Rankings after Georgia lost to Auburn.
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) November 17, 2017
This time, Hurts showed his poise in the pocket and won the game with his arm. During the critical six play-68 yard drive, Hurts connected with Calvin Ridley twice for big gains. But, it was his touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith that sealed the win and proved that Hurts has matured in his second season as a passer.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) November 12, 2017
Facing a blitz, Hurts took a three-step drop and delivered a perfect pass to Smith in stride and the freshman receiver did the rest. With the win, Alabama should take over the top spot in all rankings and place themselves in perfect position to play for another National Championship.
It was a great win for the Tide and a great redemption game for Jalen Hurts who completed 10 of 19 passes for 242 yards.
[Featured Image by Butch Dill/Getty Images]