… is now a legitimate question.
Then, of course you have the rivalries. There are no rivalries like college football rivalries. For many fans there is no better salve for a rough season than the opportunity to destroy that of their most hated opponents. The Iron Bowl is one of the sport’s iconic games, right up there with Georgia-Florida and Michigan-Ohio State. Those games have always meant more to the participants and their faithful followers.
With Notre Dame and Clemson looking like locks to make the playoff and all three of the other Power Five conferences still sporting one-loss favorites, combined with an Alabama schedule that has been heavily criticized, it is highly unlikely that the Tide will make the cut as a conference runner-up this season. Lose to Auburn and beat Georgia in Atlanta, and they’re in. Reverse the two and they are out. It’s that simple.
In other words, the Iron Bowl means absolutely nothing to Alabama this year in terms of the conference or national championships.
Keeping that in mind, it has to be tempting for Saban to treat the last game of the season like a NFL team that has clinched its spot….
I’m not saying Saban should, mind you. But it’s not a totally speculative consideration, either. And it’s only going to be more so after the CFP expands the field again.
In this case, it’s sort of moot, since Alabama’s second team is good enough to beat the Tigers at home. Expect Saban to split the baby by sitting his starters early and often after kickoff.