Alabama football: My 10 favorite moments of the Crimson Tide's 2020 national championship season
Winning a national championship is a career accomplishment for a college football coach, and earning a national championship ring cements every player on that team as a legend with that program. Coach Nick Saban and 2020 Alabama Crimson Tide are no strangers to the national championship stage, of course, but the 2020 Tide were especially special — running the table in a 10-game all-SEC regular season, swamping Florida in the SEC Championship Game, tarnishing Notre Dame in the College Football Playoff semifinals in the Rose Bowl and destroying Ohio State 52-24 in the CFP title game.
Along the way, receiver DeVonta Smith won the Tide’s third Heisman Trophy, Saban was named the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award as national coach of the year for the first time at Alabama, and the team hauled in a U-Haul trailer’s worth of hardware along the way.
Still, there were 10 special moments to remember forever from the 2020 Alabama Crimson Tide:
10. Waddle refuses to let Tennessee injury be the end
A broken ankle would derail just about anybody’s season. But not Jaylen Waddle’s. The electrifying Tide wide receiver was injured on the opening kickoff against Tennessee on Oct. 24 and had surgery to repair his ankle that night. Still, Waddle rehabilitated his injury with relentless passion, returning to practice in advance of the College Football Playoff championship game and actually playing against Ohio State — catching 3 passes for 34 yards essentially on a single good leg. Talk about writing your name in Crimson flame …
9. Barmore is a menace to the Buckeyes in the title game
If casual football fans didn’t know Christian Barmore’s name before the CFP championship game, they sure did after seeing what he did against Ohio State. The 6-5, 310-pound sophomore flustered the Buckeyes with 3 solo tackles, 5 overall stops, 2 tackles for loss and a sack of slippery Buckeyes QB Justin Fields en route to winning defensive player of the game honors.
8. Mac Jones flashes Heisman form against Georgia
Mac Jones was — fairly, might we add — the consummate game manager for Alabama all season. But that doesn’t mean he was just handing off and throwing screen passes in 2020. The junior, who finished 3rd in the Heisman voting and is headed for an NFL career, torched Georgia for 417 yards and 4 touchdowns, including a swank 90-yarder to Jaylen Waddle.
7. Najee Harris shows off his high-hurdle skills against the Irish
Najee Harris returned to Alabama for his senior season to improve his NFL Draft stock and hopefully earn a national championship ring. An unexpected bonus came on the Tide’s second drive against Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl, as he completely hurdled Irish defender Nick McCloud — who was practically standing straight up.
It was an insane run of 53 yards, and was the highlight play not only of the 5-play, 97-yard drive, but arguably one of the most athletic plays of the entire season.
6. DeVonta Smith roasts the Hogs
Most teams got the memo and didn’t punt it anywhere near DeVonta Smith to the point he could get a running start on a return. Apparently they aren’t that smart in Fayetteville, as Arkansas punted it to Smith late in the first quarter.
Not wise; 84 yards and not a single hand placed on him later, Smith trotted into the end zone.
5. Beating the corndog smell clean off the defending champs
LSU enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime season in 2019, as Heisman winner Joe Burrow led the Tigers to a 15-0 season and a season-long offensive tidal wave en route to the national championship. But the Tigers’ run at the top was short-lived, as opt-outs and NFL departures left LSU as a shell of itself. When Alabama ventured to Baton Rouge, the Tigers racked up 45 first-half points and 650 total yards. It was a bloodbath.
4. Landon Dickerson takes his moment in the CFP title game
If it got a little dusty in your house when you spotted injured center Landon Dickerson quickly and successfully politic Saban to be a part of the final victory formation snaps against Ohio State, you weren’t alone. The transfer from Florida State and 2020 Rimington Trophy winner was named a permanent team captain and was unquestionably one of the most respected and liked members of the team. When he went down with a freak knee injury late against Florida, the entire Tide roster crowded around him as he was loaded on the cart to buck up his spirits. And when he hit the huddle against the Buckeyes? That admiration and respect shone through.
3. DeVonta, meet Mr. Stiff Arm
A wide receiver hadn’t hoisted the Heisman Trophy since Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991. But Smith’s 2020 season was just too magical to not name him the Most Outstanding Player in College Football. The Alabama and SEC record-holder for career touchdown catches (46) and school record-holder with 3,965 career receiving yards, Smith finished 2020 with 117 receptions and set SEC records with 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns.
2. Whipping Auburn’s rear end in the Iron Bowl
A certain segment of Alabama fans would gladly trade trophies for humbling That Team Down The Road, which is exactly what Alabama did again in 2020. The 42-13 beating wasn’t as close as it sounds, as Alabama needed only 53 plays and 23:30 of game clock to pile up 445 yards on the Tigers. Anytime you can sing “Rammer Jammer” after a resounding win against Auburn is worth remembering.
1. That championship moment
Every FBS team dreams of doing this — unless you’re Alabama, and you pretty much expect to. For the 6th time in 14 seasons under Saban, the Crimson Tide hoisted the national championship trophy as confetti rained down in the South Florida sky. Offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood and Saban tag-teamed the CFP national championship trophy this year, with Leatherwood holding onto it exclusively the entire time they were on the stage. You going to try and take it from him?