Ranking Alabama's seven neutral site openers under Nick Saban

Sporting News


  • Ranking Alabama's seven neutral site openers under Nick Saban


    Alabama and neutral site openers go hand-in-hand. 

    The Crimson Tide is 7-0 in such games under coach Nick Saban heading into Saturday's blockbuster matchup against No. 3 Florida State at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday. 

    Under Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide are 7-0 in those neutral-site openers and have won those games by 22.9 points per game. 

    MORE: SN Predictions for 2017

    We ranked those matchups up the most-epic blowout:



  • 1
    Virginia Tech (2009)


    Score: No. 5 Alabama 34, No. 7 Virginia Tech 24
    Location: Chick-fil-A Kickoff (Georgia Dome)
    What happened: Alabama opened its first national championship run under Saban with a 10-point win against Virginia Tech. The Hokies led heading into the fourth quarter before Tide running back Mark Ingram scored two touchdown runs.
    Fallout: The Hokies recovered. They won their next five games and finished 10-3 before beating Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.


    MORE: Saban a program killer?



  • 2
    West Virginia (2014)


    Score:  No. 2 Alabama 33, West Virginia 23
    Location: Chick-fil-A Kickoff (Georgia Dome)
    What happened: West Virginia hung around in this one and trailed 20-17 at halftime, but a 19-yard touchdown run by Derrick Henry in the second half opened up the lead for Alabama. The Crimson Tide won another SEC title and reached the College Football Playoff.
    Fallout: West Virginia finished 7-6 under Dana Holgorsen before improving to 8-5 the following season.  


    MORE: SEC predictions



  • 3
    Wisconsin (2015)


    Score: No. 3 Alabama 35, No. 20 Wisconsin 17
    Location: AdvoCare Classic (AT&T Stadium)
    What happened: Alabama started its fourth national title run under Saban by beating its second Big Ten opponent in Jerry World. Derrick Henry started his Heisman Trophy campaign by rushing for 147 yards and three touchdowns.
    Fallout: Wisconsin still won 10 games, but they didn’t beat a ranked team all season. They still learned their lesson, opening 2016 with a win against No. 5 LSU at Lambeau Field.





  • 4
    Virginia Tech (2013)


    Score: No. 1 Alabama 35, Virginia Tech 10
    Location: Chick-fil-A Kickoff (Georgia Dome)
    What happened: Alabama reversed “Beamer Ball.” Christion Jones returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in the first half, and the Crimson Tide started an 11-2 season with another convincing win.
    Fallout: Virginia Tech finished the season 8-5 and had back-to-back 7-6 seasons before Frank Beamer retired.





  • 5
    Clemson (2008)


    Score: No. 24 Alabama 34, No. 9 Clemson 10
    Location: Chick-fil-A Kickoff (Georgia Dome)
    What happened: Alabama announced its return to big-time college football by jumping out to a 23-3 halftime lead. John Parker Wilson threw two toucdowns. The Tide finished 12-0 before losing to Florida in the SEC championship game.
    Fallout: Clemson fired Tommy Bowden six games into the season after a 3-3 start. That worked out long term with Dabo Swinney, but the Tigers finished 7-6 that season.




  • 6
    Michigan (2012)


    Score: No. 2 Alabama 48, No. 8 Michigan 14
    Location: Cowboys Classic (AT&T Stadium)
    What happened: Alabama opened its national title defense by jumping out to a 31-0 lead against a Michigan team that won the Sugar Bowl the previous season. That started another national championship run for Alabama.
    Fallout: Michigan was never the same under Brady Hoke. The Wolverines finished 8-5 that season before compiling a 12-13 record the next two seasons.




  • 7
    USC (2016)


    Score: No. 1 Alabama 52, No. 20 USC 6
    Location: AdvoCare Classic (AT&T Stadium)
    What happened: The defending national champions overwhelmed USC with a defense that allowed just 194 total yards. The Crimson Tide scored 38 unanswered points by true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts after falling behind 3-0.
    Fallout: It’s USC’s worst loss since losing to Notre Dame 51-0 in 1966. That’s brutal. It’s another example of Alabama flexing its muscles in the national spotlight. Who’s next?