There’s no trilogy here. No revenge on the docket. Georgia is just another opponent on Alabama’s schedule.
But this isn’t any normal game.
“I mean, this is the national championship game,” Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans said, “the biggest game of the season.”
And the only one Alabama lost last season.
Current players wanted to send last year’s seniors out on a good note but didn’t accomplish that task. Now, back in postseason, those who graduated keep reaching out and giving advice. They even show up to the games in support. Names range from Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster to Mark Ingram and Julio Jones.
“When they come to those games, they expect us to play to a certain standard,” UA running back Damien Harris said. “It’s something that we also think about in the back of our minds. We don’t really need them to tell us to fight. We know when they show up to those games it’s what they expect.”
Really, it’s what they expect out of themselves, too.
Alabama didn’t show up to the semifinal with half a tank. It was fully loaded, ready to go, and that energy came from the extensive preparation. Five weeks separated the Iron Bowl and the Clemson game. There was more than enough time to get amped up, and it worked. Alabama won.
“Coach (Nick) Saban and all of the other coaches have done a great job of just keeping us level-headed from all the happiness coming from the last game,” Evans said. “I mean, it was a big game for us to be able to get a win over Clemson, which was something that we waited a whole year for.”
Now, there’s only a week between the two College Football Playoff games. There’s also no beef between Georgia and Alabama like there was with Clemson and Alabama.
Good thing the motivation is already there.
“It’s not hard to get excited to play in the national championship game against a great Georgia team,” Alabama offensive lineman Jonah Williams said. “We had our time to enjoy that Clemson win, and we were back to work (Wednesday), studying Georgia, practicing again and lifting again.”
The team got back from New Orleans on Tuesday and left for Atlanta on Friday. The Crimson Tide plays Monday.
It was a very quick turnaround.
“To be honest with you, we really don’t even care,” Evans said. “We literally are planning on just trying to win this game, and that’s really just what matters right now.”
That’s what Alabama said about the Clemson game. But it was just as a fair of a statement as it is now. Without defeating the Tigers, the Crimson Tide wouldn’t even have a chance at this game.
Because in case anyone forgot:
“This game right here, everything depends on this game,” Evans said. “You can win every other game during the season and if you lose this one, none of that stuff matters.”