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Ranking all 21 of Nick Saban’s losses at Bama by how happy they make the world

He’s had so few, you might remember all of them.

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Banner Society illustration.

Take this as a compliment, Bama fan. Your team is in the middle of probably the greatest dynasty in college football history (was?), and your coach has so few losses that almost all of them are memorable by average fans.

With that out of the way, let’s cherish some memories.

Treasured only by extremely devoted Bama haters

21. 41-34 vs. #1 (using final AP record for each opponent, rather than record at kickoff) LSU in 2007
20. 26-23 in OT vs. #2 Georgia in 2007
19. 17-10 at #15 Auburn in 2007
18. 17-12 at Mississippi State in 2007
17. 21-14 vs. Florida State in 2007

Almost all of Bama’s losses in Saban’s first year are forgivable and forgettable. The roster was in relative shambles, and the Tide could’ve gone much better than 7-6 against a lighter schedule. Each of these was nearly a win against a Power 5 bowl team.


16. 9-6 in OT vs. #2 LSU in 2011

This game was excellent viewing (except for people who dislike football), but its Bama schadenfreude quickly spoiled. Bama would avenge this close loss with a BCS Championship blowout anyway, meaning we couldn’t even enjoy this guy for more than a couple months:

15. 31-20 vs. #1 Florida in 2008

Reaching 12-0 and the SEC Championship in Year 2, then losing to the two-time national champs? Nothing wrong with that.

Brought smiles to faces nationwide

14. 24-21 at #8 LSU in 2010

Not humiliating, but Bama was the defending national champ, and everybody likes it when the defending national champ loses.

13. 26-14 at #10 Auburn in 2017

Sure seemed like something at the time, but the injured Tide later won Saban's 437th national title and got transitive revenge over Auburn by beating Georgia.

12. 29-24 vs. #5 Texas A&M in 2012

All the way down here?! I know! Though this was maybe the game of the year, and though an all-out offense seemingly exposed Saban’s defense forever, it was fleeting happiness. Bama won the title anyway and later adapted to spread ball just fine.

But we’ll always have this nonsense:


11. 45-31 vs. #6 Oklahoma in 2013

People loved this one, and the fact that it made for a two-game losing streak delivered delight, as did Bob Stoops’ ensuing Paul Heyman impression. But it only added to the schadenfreude tsunami that was the top game on our list, rather than truly standing on its own.

10. 35-21 at #22 South Carolina in 2010

As Ryan Nanni and Doug Gillett said on the Shutdown Fullcast, in which a question from one of our listeners brought up this topic:

‘I’m going to give you a passing line from an Alabama opponent, and I want you to guess the game: 17 of completions on 20 attempts, 201 passing yards, one interception, three touchdowns. That’s Stephen Garcia going 17 of damn 20 against an Alabama defense. Stephen Garcia’s from Tampa and loves to drink.’

‘That performance was kind of like in Old School, when Will Ferrell answers the very difficult debate question, and everyone’s like, “Wow, that was amazing,” and he’s like, “Whoa, what happened? Where was I?”’

9. 42-35 vs. #1 Ohio State in 2014

Bama getting booted from the first-ever Playoff by a third-string QB and a team that many felt should’ve ranked #6? That’s heart-warming, but Ohio State doing it by running all over Bama’s ass, rather than by throwing it around or doing anything fancy, is what filled the soul.

8. 31-17 vs. #2 Utah in 2008

More shocking than the final score looks. The 9.5-point-underdog mid-majors cracked open a 21-0 lead as FOX Sports’ Daryl Johnston could only repeat, "Wow! Wow!" on air. The Utes leaped from AP #7 to final #2, with 16 first-place votes.

7. 23-17 at #17 Ole Miss in 2014
6. 43-37 vs. #10 Ole Miss in 2015

These two amplify each other. Saban assumes FINAL BOSS FORM in revenge games, and Ole Miss hadn’t beaten Bama since 2003, hadn’t won in Tuscaloosa since 1988, and had never beaten the Tide back-to-back. I still can’t believe this happened, even though we found proof by tracking the goalposts throughout Oxford.

Hearts sang throughout the galaxy, and any of these could rank #1

5. 35-31 vs. #1 Clemson in 2016

Saban’s first-ever loss in a National Championship snuffed out a season that would’ve had a numerical case to rank as the greatest ever: being the first to go wire-to-wire as AP # 1 in a 15-game season. Saban’s Tide finished one grueling second away from their fifth title in a decade and virtually undisputed status as the greatest dynasty ever.

And unlike most Bama losses, it slammed the door on any potential for a Zombie Tide championship later in the season.

And it came after Bama had built a 14-0 lead.

And it came at the expense of a Bama product who’s Saban’s personality opposite.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Head Coaches News Conference John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

4. 28-27 vs. #1 Auburn in 2010

Bama was up by 24, flying like Liu Kang into the middle of Auburn’s astounding trapeze act. The hated Cam Newton was being humbled after Alabama’s PA had played “Take the Money and Run” and “Son of a Preacher Man” (references to ongoing NCAA allegations) and the student section had thrown these onto the field:

Chase Goodbread, Twitter

Anyway, Cam won.


2018 Alabama was (again) on the verge of having a solid case to enter the Best Team Ever debate.

And then Clemson won (again), this time by the astounding score of 44-16. I think it goes down as the most shocking #1 vs. #2 postseason game ever.

2. The 2007 loss that can’t be excused


The Warhawks have had two all-time I-A/FBS winning seasons. Their budget is smaller than plenty of FCS schools. They went 5-6 otherwise this year and lost to 2-10 North Texas. No matter the context at the time, this result will bring joy to onlookers for all eternity.

1. Uncle Verne featuring Yung Joc. You already know.