For the Second Time in 3 Years, Kickers Go Perfect Against Alabama
It's no secret that when opposing teams face off against the Alabama Crimson Tide, they bring their A-Game -- Head Coach Nick Saban said as much in no uncertain terms in his November rant about the entitlement of the Alabama fan base.
"We're going to get everybody's best game, and I don't know why people can't understand that," Saban said. "You can say it's not fair to our players that they get everybody's best game, but they do."
Often, when fans analyze how opponents stacked up against the Tide, they're talking about quarterbacks like Texas A&M's Zach Calzada and Georgia's Stetson Bennett IV, both start-of-season backups who hit their strides in victories against the Tide this season.
Quietly overlooked are the kickers facing off against Alabama, but for the second time in three seasons, they have gone perfect in their contests with Bama.
Opposing teams attempted 17 field goals against the Tide in 2021 and made all 17. In 2019, kickers went a flawless 20 for 20 against Alabama.
In Bama's October loss against the Aggies, for example, Texas A&M's Seth Small was two for two, earning their first points with a 38-yard kick in the first quarter and sealing their upset victory with a walk-off kick from 28 yards as time expired.
Looking back at that October loss, people might remember Calzada's impressive three-touchdown performance or Devon Achane's 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, but a missed kick from Small on either of his two attempts could have dramatically shifted the outcome of the Tide's eventual 38-41 loss to the Aggies.
The Tide also has the distinction of being the only college football team in the nation against whom kickers were perfect in 2021.
Four others came close -- Boston College allowed 13 on 14 attempts, Arizona allowed 12-of-13, Army allowed 11-for-12 and Coastal Carolina allowed 10-of-11.
The only silver lining for Alabama fans when it comes to their opponents' kicking game came in the Tide's September win over the Florida Gators, when Chris Howard missed a pivotal extra point try in what eventually became a nail-biting 31-29 victory for Bama.
Opponents made all 33 of their other extra point attempts against the Tide this season.
No single aspect of the game led to Alabama's struggles over the course of a gritty, hard-fought season, but having their opponents nail every single field goal try like clockwork certainly didn't help matters.
Special teams is often considered the forgotten phase of football, but in 2019 and 2021, when opposing kickers were perfect against Bama, the final results were two-loss season and no National Championship.
In 2020, when Alabama's Will Reichard was a perfect 14-for-14 and their opponents were 14 for 19, the Tide walked away undefeated and claimed their 18th title.
Correlation is obviously not causation, but perhaps Bama Nation should cross their fingers for a few missed or blocked kicks next season and more consistency from Reichard, who is expected to return for his senior season. It may just be the key to locking in another championship victory.