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Monday, April 6, 2020

Nick Saban, Alabama run up the score against Michigan

Nick Saban grin

Nick Saban and Jim Harbaugh don’t seem to get along very well, and the events that transpired late in the Citrus Bowl on Wednesday serve as further evidence of that.

Leading by 12 with 6:04 left in the fourth quarter, the Alabama Crimson Tide embarked on a nearly six-minute drive that crushed Michigan’s chances of mounting a late comeback. The real talking point came on the final play of said drive. Alabama could have easily taken a knee on 3rd and goal at the Michigan 2, and not had to run another play. Saban and the Tide, however, opted to run up the score, handing the ball to running back Najee Harris for a two-yard touchdown.

That was eye-opening enough, but Michigan added to the intrigue on their brief ensuing drive. The already-beaten Wolverines opted to spike the ball with two seconds left to set up a Hail Mary try from the Alabama 41, even though it would have had no bearing on the outcome. The attempt was intercepted by Alabama in the end zone.

In other words, in a game that was already over, both teams kept trying to hurt the other. One might chalk that up to attitude and two programs with elite ambitions, but it would also be easy to point to some enmity between the two coaches.

While both were very cordial speaking before and after the game, some words were exchanged back in 2016, when Harbaugh was establishing satellite camps in SEC country. Saban raised concerns about that practice, which led to Harbaugh publicly going after the Alabama program. Saban tried to downplay any tension between the two, but the fact is he probably hasn’t forgotten that response. It may well have been in the back of Saban’s mind on Wednesday when he had the chance to make a point to Harbaugh on the field for the first time head-to-head.

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