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Saban, Tide Continue Success in Openers

By Carlos Pineda
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Carlos Pineda on Nick Saban's continued success in week one games.

Nick Saban is the king of college football, and kickoff games.

On Saturday evening, Saban wore the Leather Helmet trophy, presented to the winner of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game, with a big smile after a 44-13 drubbing of Miami to open up his 15th season with the Crimson Tide.

The Saban-led Alabama teams have played in 11 kickoff games and have faced the likes of Clemson (2008), Virginia Tech (2009 & 2013), Michigan (2012), Wisconsin (2015), Southern Cal (2016), Florida State (2017) and Miami (2021).

They have an unblemished record of 11-0 in these contests with a belting of “Rammer Jammer” guaranteed to close out the night.

The return of the kickoff game in 2008 coincided with the resurgence of the Crimson Tide football program under the leadership of Saban, who took over in Tuscaloosa in 2007. Since 2008, Saban is 67-17 against teams in the top 25.

Alabama entered the inaugural 2008 Kickoff game in Atlanta as an underdog, coming off a 7-6 in 2007. The Crimson Tide were expected to face tough competition in ninth-ranked Clemson. The Tigers entered the season with a lot of pre-season hype and were supposed to use this prime time game as a showcase to let the rest of the college football world know they were for real. Someone forgot to tell Alabama that. The Crimson Tide jumped out to a 23-3 lead and shut the party down for good with a dominant 34-10 win.

From there, Alabama was on an upward trajectory. The Tide climbed 11 spots in the polls to 13th and landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated, putting the SEC on notice.They would lose to Florida in the SEC title game, but would go on to win the national championship in 2009 followed by two more titles in a span of three years.

Forward to now and Saban has won six national titles and seven conference championships.

Saturday’s win over the Hurricanes gave him a 15-0 record in season openers, and shut down any doubts or concerns the public may have had about the 2021 Alabama squad. The Tide defense held D'Eriq King and the Miami offense to 266 total yards. UM averaged 439.8 total yards last season. Sophomore quarterback Bryce Young led Alabama to five straight scoring drives, passed for 344 yards and threw four touchdowns in his first start.

Saturday was an all-too-familiar setting for Saban and the Crimson Tide. Win a highly televised game, celebrate with "Rammer Jammer," and add another piece of hardware to the trophy room.

Carlos Pineda - Carlos Pineda is a featured writer for Southern Pigskin. He covered the UCF Knights football team for Florida Today in 2010. Carlos' work has been published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel and Orlando Business Journal. He attended the University of Central Florida. Follow Carlos on Twitter @CarlosFPineda.