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Nick Saban’s championship seasons at Alabama


Here’s a recap of Alabama’s four national championships under Nick Saban:

Coach Nick Saban lifts the trophy as he celebrates after Alabama’s 45-40 victory over Clemson in the College Football National Championship game in the University of Phoenix Stadium Monday, January 11, 2016. Gary Cosby Jr. | The Tuscaloosa News


Overall record: 14-1

Conference record: 7-1

Path to the championship: Alabama had to settle on a quarterback, and Jake Coker finally emerged in the wake of an early-season loss to Ole Miss. With no margin for error after that defeat, the Crimson Tide seemed to pick up steam week by week and gathered new momentum after a competitive victory over Tennessee. Running back Derrick Henry carried a big load through an SEC Championship Game win over Florida, and UA’s attack got more diversified in playoff wins over Michigan State and Clemson.

Bump in the road: The Crimson Tide fell at home to Ole Miss, 43-37, in the third game of the season, turning the ball over five times and allowing a long touchdown on a pass that deflected off the helmet of a defender.

Biggest win along the way: Alabama overwhelmed a highly-ranked Georgia team on the road in a downpour to reestablish itself as a contender, intercepting three passes in a stout defensive performance.

Championship game: Special teams proved key as Marlon Humphrey recovered a key onside kick and Kenyan Drake returned a kickoff for a touchdown as UA won a shootout over Clemson, 45-40. Tight end O.J. Howard was named most valuable player with 208 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Key stat: Alabama led the nation in sacks with 52, averaging nearly 3.5 per game.


Wisconsin*; W 35-7

Middle Tennessee; W 37-10

Ole Miss; L 43-37

Louisiana-Monroe; W 34-0

at Georgia; W 38-10

Arkansas; W 27-14

at Texas A&M; W 41-23

Tennessee; W 19-14

LSU; W 30-16

at Mississippi State; W 31-6

Charleston Southern; W 56-6

at Auburn; W 29-13

Florida+; W 29-15

Michigan State#; W 38-0

Clemson^; W 45-40

*Arlington, Texas

+SEC Championship Game, Atlanta

#College Football Playoff semifinal, Arlington, Texas

^CFP National Championship Game, Glendale, Ariz.

Captains: Jake Coker, Derrick Henry, Ryan Kelly, Reggie Ragland

Assistant coaches: Burton Burns (associate head coach/running backs), Mario Cristobal (assistant head coach/offensive line), Bo Davis (defensive line), Lane Kiffin (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks), Tosh Lupoi (outside linebackers), Billy Napier (receivers), Kirby Smart (defensive coordinator/inside linebackers), Mel Tucker (assistant head coach/defensive backs), Bobby Williams (tight ends/special teams), Scott Cochran (strength and conditioning)

Leading rusher: Derrick Henry, 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns on 395 carries

Leading passer: Jake Coker, 263 of 393 for 3,110 yards with 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions

Leading receiver: Calvin Ridley, 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns on 89 receptions

Leading tackler: Reggie Ragland, 102

Top player awards: Derrick Henry, Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Doak Walker Award, Walter Camp Award; Ryan Kelly, Rimington Trophy

Alabama Coach Nick Saban holds up the trophy after Alabama defeated Notre Dame 42-14 at the BCS National Championship between Notre Dame and Alabama at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Michelle Lepianka Carter | The Tuscaloosa News


Overall record: 13-1

Conference record: 7-1

Path to the championship: Alabama looked like a national front-runner from the start, when it trounced Michigan in AT&T Stadium. UA produced four shutouts and gave up two touchdowns or less in seven other games. The real national title game occurred in Atlanta in the SEC Championship Game, where Alabama topped Georgia, 32-28, in an epic battle.

Bump in the road: Meet Johnny Football, aka Johnny Manziel. Alabama greeted him in Bryant-Denny Stadium in October, and Texas A&M’s mesmerizing quarterback pulled off an upset on the way to winning the Heisman Trophy as the Aggies prevailed, 29-24.

Biggest win along the way: Alabama rallied to beat LSU in Baton Rouge, La., with T.J. Yeldon scoring the game-winning touchdown on a 28-yard screen pass with 51 seconds to go.

Championship game: Alabama elephant-stomped Notre Dame, jumping out to a 28-0 lead by halftime. Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon each topped 100 yards on the ground and AJ McCarron threw four touchdown passes as UA won its third national crown in four years.

Key stat: Opponents averaged just 2.4 yards per carry on the season.


Michigan*; W 41-14

Western Kentucky; W 35-0

at Arkansas; W 52-0

Florida Atlantic, W 40-7

Ole Miss; W 33-14

at Missouri, W 42-10

at Tennessee; W 44-13

Mississippi State; W 38-7

at LSU; W 21-17

Texas A&M; L 29-24

Western Carolina; W 49-0

Auburn; W 49-0

Georgia*; W 32-28

Notre Dame#; W 42-14

*Arlington, Texas

+SEC Championship Game, Atlanta

#BCS National Championship Game, Miami Gardens, Fla.

Captains: Barrett Jones, Damion Square, Chance Warmack

Assistant coaches: Burton Burns (associate head coach/running backs), Mike Groh (receivers), Doug Nussmeier (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks), Jeremy Pruitt (defensive backs), Chris Rumph (defensive line), Kirby Smart (defensive coordinator/inside linebackers), Jeff Stoutland (offensive line), Lance Thompson (outside linebackers), Bobby Williams (tight ends/special teams), Scott Cochran (strength and conditioning)

Leading rusher: Eddie Lacy, 1.322 yards and 17 touchdowns on 204 carries

Leading passer: AJ McCarron, 211 of 314 for 2,933 yards with 30 touchdowns and three interceptions

Leading receiver: Amari Cooper, 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns on 59 receptions

Leading tackler: C.J. Mosley, 107

Top player awards: Barrett Jones, Rimington Trophy and Campbell Trophy

Alabama celebrates their victory over LSU in the BCS National Championship game in New Orleans, La. Monday, Jan. 9, 2012. Alabama beat LSU to secure their 14th national title in New Orleans 21-0. Dusty Compton | The Tuscaloosa News


Overall record: 12-1

Conference record: 7-1

Path to the championship: After losing to LSU in November, an Alabama team that had otherwise cruised through the season needed some help. In succession, Oklahoma State was upset by Iowa State, Stanford lost to Oregon and Oregon promptly lost to Southern Cal. Those results cleared the path for an Alabama-LSU rematch, even though UA didn’t win the SEC West and sat out the SEC Championship Game.

Bump in the road: In a contest billed as the Game of the Century, LSU defeated Alabama 9-6 in overtime at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama missed four field goal tries in a battle of defensive behemoths.

Biggest win along the way: The Crimson Tide traveled to No. 12 Florida and held the Gators to 222 total yards — just 15 of them on the ground — in a 38-12 romp.

Championship game: Alabama won the rematch with LSU at the Sugar Bowl. The Tigers only drove into UA territory once and were held to 92 total yards, while Alabama kicker Jeremy Shelley made five field goals. Trent Richardson broke loose for a touchdown run in the final minutes to ice the game.

Key stat: Alabama led the nation in scoring defense (8.2 points per game), rushing defense (72.15 yards per game), pass defense (115.5 yards per game) and total defense (183.6 yards per game).


Kent State; W 48-7

at Penn State; W 27-11

North Texas; W 41-0

Arkansas; W 38-14

at Florida; W 38-10

Vanderbilt; W 34-0

at Ole Miss; W 52-7

Tennessee; W 37-6

LSU; L 9-6 OT

at Mississippi State; W 24-7

Georgia Southern; W 45-21

at Auburn; W 42-14

LSU#; W 21-0

#BCS National Championship Game, New Orleans

Captains: Mark Barron, Dont’a Hightower, Trent Richardson

Assistant coaches: Burton Burns (associate head coach/running backs), Mike Groh (receivers), Jim McElwain (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks), Jeremy Pruitt (safeties), Chris Rumph (defensive line), Kirby Smart (defensive coordinator/linebackers), Jeff Stoutland (offensive line), Sal Sunseri (assistant head coach/linebackers), Bobby Williams (tight ends/special teams), Scott Cochran (strength and conditioning)

Leading rusher: Trent Richardson, 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns on 283 carries

Leading passer: Greg McElroy, 219 of 328 for 2,634 yards with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions

Leading receiver: Marquis Maze, 627 yards and one touchdown on 56 receptions

Leading tackler: Don’ta Hightower, 85

Top player awards: Barrett Jones, Outland Trophy and Wuerffel Trophy; Trent Richardson, Doak Walker Award. (Note: UA’s team won the Disney Wide World of Sports Spirit Award forpublic service in the wake of the April tornado that devastated Tuscaloosa.)



Alabama Coach Nick Saban celebrates with players after winning the 2009 BCS national championship. Alabama won the game by a score of 37-21. Robert Sutton | The Tuscaloosa News


Overall record: 14-0

Conference record: 8-0

Path to the championship: Alabama had established itself the year before but lost its final two games. A 10-point win over Virginia Tech was a nice start, but didn’t signal what was to come: Alabama didn’t have anything resembling a close game until it met Tennessee in October, and cruised into the Iron Bowl undefeated. UA came from behind to beat Auburn and closed out in dominant fashion to run the table with a perfect record.

Bump in the road: Alabama survived Tennessee when Terrence Cody blocked a field goal attempt as time expired — Cody’s second blocked field goal of the game — to preserve a two-point victory.

Biggest win along the way: Alabama put together a drive for the ages to come from behind for victory at Auburn, driving more than seven minutes to cover 79 yards on 15 plays, capped by Greg McElroy’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Roy Upchurch with 1:24 remaining in the game for the 26-21 victory.

Championship game: The Crimson Tide knocked Texas quarterback Colt McCoy out of the game early, built a big lead, weathered a Longhorn rally and grounded out an historic 37-21 victory at the Rose Bowl. UA’s defense produced five turnovers.

Key stat: Alabama’s 24 interceptions ranked second nationally. Mark Barron had seven to lead UA.


Virginia Tech*; W 34-24

Florida International; W 40-14

North Texas; W 53-7

Arkansas; W 35-7

at Kentucky; W 38-20

at Ole Miss; W 22-3

South Carolina; W 20-6

Tennessee; W 12-10

LSU; W 24-15

at Mississippi State; W 31-3

Chattanooga; W 45-0

at Auburn; W 26-21

Florida+; W 32-13

Texas#; W 37-21


+SEC Championship Game, Atlanta

#BCS National Championship Game, Pasadena, Calif.

Captains: Javier Arenas, Mike Johnson, Rolando McClain

Assistant coaches: Burton Burns (associate head coach/running backs), Curt Cignetti (receivers), Bo Davis (defensive line), Jim McElwain (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks), Joe Pendry (assistant head coach/offensive line), Kirby Smart (defensive coordinator/safeties), Sal Sunseri (assistant head coach/linebackers), Bobby Williams (tight ends/special teams), James Willis (associate head coach/outside linebackers), Scott Cochran (strength and conditioning)

Leading rusher: Mark Ingram, 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns on 271 carries

Leading passer: Greg McElroy, 198 of 325 for 2,508 yards with 17 touchdowns and four interceptions

Leading receiver: Julio Jones, 596 yards and four touchdowns on 43 receptions

Leading tackler: Rolando McClain, 105

Top player awards: Mark Ingram, Heisman Trophy; Rolando McClain, Butkus Award and Jack Lambert Award