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A 23-17 loss to Ole Miss opened Alabama’s eyes last season. It was a matchup filled with huge plays from quarterback Bo Wallace and tough injuries to three Crimson Tide players.

Vaught-Hemingway Stadium got a signature win on the evening of Oct. 4, 2014.

In sheer amazing, Mississippi fans tore down both goal posts in honor of its team starting undefeated at 5-0. Alabama’s running back T.J. Yeldon is normally a quiet person, however, his defining moment came in the locker room after a loss than on the field.

He addressed the situation and said “We aren’t going out like this. Not letting everyone be right about us. From this point on, nobody is getting by us.” His words were needed.

It rode the passion of Yeldon’s speech and leadership of fifth-year senior quarterback Blake Sims into the Southeastern Conference Championship Game and College Football Playoff.

A second straight Sugar Bowl loss put a sour taste in Alabama’s mouth to end 2014.

Teams that are coached by Nick Saban are recognized for three things, fundamentals, discipline and physicality. The Crimson Tide has lacked at least one of these features in the last two seasons. It has a chance to recapture its identity this fall, but the grind starts in summer camp.

Alabama’s success under Saban has been fueled by statement wins and losses that resulted in championship season the following year. Listed below is a breakdown capturing the program’s biggest wins and losses under Saban in his eight seasons with Alabama.

Alabama’s statement wins under Saban (since 2008)

  • Alabama 41, Georgia 30- 2008 “Blackout Game”
  • Alabama 27, LSU 21 (OT)- 2008
  • Alabama 36, Auburn 0- 2008
  • Alabama 12, Tennessee 10- 2009
  • Alabama 32, Florida 13- 2009 SEC Championship Game
  • Alabama 37, Texas 21- 2010 BCS National Championship Game
  • Alabama 21, LSU 0- 2012 BCS National Championship Game
  • Alabama 20, LSU 13- 2014
  • Alabama 55, Auburn 44- 2014

Losses that fueled championship seasons for Alabama

  • Florida 31, Alabama 20- 2008 SEC Championship Game
  • Auburn 28, Alabama 27- 2010 Iron Bowl
  • LSU 9, Alabama 6- 2011 “Game of the Century’
  • Texas A&M 29, Alabama 24- 2012
  • Ole Miss 23, Alabama 17- 2014

According to 5Dimes, Alabama has the third-best odds (+180) of getting into the College Football Playoff, but its road schedule will not be easy. The Crimson Tide must face Auburn, Georgia, Texas A&M and Mississippi State on the road. Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin can’t afford to be one-dimensional in his play calling.

Can Alabama win it all in 2015?

Stephen M. Smith is a staff writer and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine, Pick Six Previews and SB Nation. You can “like” on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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