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  • Writer's pictureKevin Scarbinsky

Alabama's stellar Sugar Bowl adds to the pain of what might have been

Nick Saban has said it a million times. He remembers the losses more than the wins. Makes sense. It's much easier to recall the painful details of his 27 defeats at Alabama than the repetitive successes of his 194 victories.

By that mind-boggling Bama standard, you can consider the 2022 season one of the most memorable of Saban's 16 years in Tuscaloosa. The team that coulda woulda shoulda been a national championship contender to the end instead came up agonizingly short.

Did Alabama 45, Kansas State 20 in a consolation Sugar Bowl ease the pain of not reaching the SEC Championship Game and failing to advance to the College Football Playoff - or did it make those shortcomings hurt all the worse?

Only Saban and his players can say for sure, but the rest of us can take a pretty good guess.

"The guys that are here today, the team that is here today, is really representative of what the University of Alabama and our program is all about," Saban said on stage during the trophy presentation.

Hard to argue after the Crimson Tide secured its 12th straight season with at least 11 wins, but still tough to take. The team that started slow but owned the Sugar Bowl also has to own a three-point heartbreak at Tennessee and a one-point overtime setback at LSU that left it outside the playoff for just the second time.

Other Saban teams at Alabama have had brushes with greatness that ended as near-misses. Auburn gutted the 2013 team's quest for a three-peat with the Kick Six. Clemson denied the 2016 team's shot at a repeat on its final snap. Georgia snatched the 2021 team's back-to-back hopes with a furious finish punctuated by a pick six.

This Alabama team finished what it started - just not where it wanted.

Read the rest of Kevin's look back at a so-close season. Only in The Lede.

Will Anderson, Bryce Young, Nick Saban and Jordan Battle celebrate Alabama's Sugar Bowl win over Kansas State.


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