New Orleans has turned into a fickle mistress when it comes to the Alabama Crimson Tide over the past few years. The team took home a national championship in one of the singular dominant performances of the past twenty five years when Alabama beat LSU for the 2011 BCS Champion. Since that triumph, the Crimson Tide has a pair of painful losses in the same building.
In the 2015 iteration of the Sugar Bowl, it was mistakes and injuries that doomed Alabama. On offense, Blake Sims threw three interceptions, including one in the end zone as the Tide seemed poised to come thundering back. Defensively, Alabama allowed Ohio State to convert 10 of 18 third down opportunities en route to racking up 537 total yards.
Taken by themselves, those mistakes can be overcome by the best teams, but unfortunately for the Tide, injuries prevented them from putting the “best” team on the field to try for a comeback. Landon Collins missed snaps with a shoulder problem, Reggie Ragland and Dillon Lee watched the conclusion of the game in street clothes following injuries, and TJ Yeldon was hobbled throughout the game with the same ankle and leg injuries that have slowed him for the majority of the year.
Even with all of the adversity that Alabama faced against a hungry Ohio State Buckeyes team, Blake Sims was throwing for a tying touchdown as time expired in the fourth quarter. Much like last year’s Sugar Bowl, running back Derrick Henry took a big step forward by carrying the load to the tune of 95 yards on 13 carries as well as another 54 yards on a pair of catches.
Other than Henry, there are a bunch of questions that Alabama will have to answer over the next few months. Blake Sims will graduate, and many of the stalwarts that pushed the team into the College Football Playoff such as Landon Collins and Amari Cooper are either declaring for the NFL Draft or exhausting their eligibility.
The final question to answer regarding the 2014 Crimson Tide involves their legacy. Many fans will remember the SEC Championship and the fabulous story surrounding Blake Sims. Perhaps the best way to remember the 2014 team comes from head coach Nick Saban himself: “I’m proud of this team.”