The Ides of March. Friday the 13th. They're traditional days to be aware of or avoided, as bad things have been known to happen on them.

Similarly, Nick Saban and Alabama football may want to consider October 9 in similar vein. The last time it played on this day, the Crimson Tide visited South Carolina in 2010. 


Quarterback Stephen Garcia had the best game of his career, Alabama standout wide receiver Julio Jones suffered a broken hand and the Gamecocks under Steve Spurrier celebrated the first win against a No. 1-ranked opponent in program history. 

It doesn't matter that Alabama hasn't lost to an SEC East team since, all streaks eventually come to an end and many did on Saturday night.

"This is the second time we've won 19 games in a row," Saban said. "I think if you look back in the record book we won 19 games in a row and went to South Carolina, and played about like we played today.

"We got beat."

Yes, it was 19 straight in 2010, resulting in the first of three losses for a team that appeared to be overflowing with talent. 

Another impressive streak that came to an end with the last-second field goal to give Texas A&M a 41-38 victory, and sparked the latest on-field celebration for beating Alabama, was Saban against his former assistant coaches.  

The one who had won a national championship as a head coach became the first to beat his former boss, albeit barely. 

Saban had been 24-0 against them. 

Jimbo Fisher, who celebrated his 56th birthday Saturday, is now 1-4 in the matchups. 

Alabama had also won 100 consecutive games against unranked opponents, the longest string in college football history, although that never should have been on the line at Kyle Field. Without its starting quarterback, the Aggies had lost back-to-back games against Arkansas and Mississippi State, free-falling from No. 7, but this team still had a lot of talent. 

"I knew we were playing a good team," Saban said. "They lost two games, but they have a good defense, they have good players. The tight end is a good player, they have a couple of running backs who are really good players. They have good receivers and a really good defense.

"I thought we would have a really tough game here." 

Consequently, there was almost a feel of inevitability, if not prophecy, surrounding this game. 

Johnny Manziel, the last Texas A&M quarterback to beat Alabama, was on the sideline. 

Years ago, 2017 to be exact, this is where Saban first uttered the words "Rat Poison," when the Crimson Tide had to rally for a 27-19 victory. At the time he was concerned about his team's focus, and he didn't use the phrase again until earlier this season. 

A more direct prognostication, sort of, happened this summer when Fisher was speaking at the Houston Touchdown Club and was asked short of Saban's retirement what it's going to take to beat Alabama?

“We’re going to beat his ass when he’s there,” he said, drawing laughter. “Don’t worry.”

"In golf?" Saban said with a chuckle when told of Fisher's statement. 

Nope, there will be no mulligans on this one, nor should there be.

This was also a complete loss, with plenty of blame to go around. At times the Crimson Tide looked to be the better team across the board, only to have major setbacks in all three facets. 

For example, the defense gave up too many big plays, especially during the first half when Texas A&M jumped out to a 24-10 lead. That included safety Malachi Moore giving the quarterback a totally unnecessary extra shot, to the head nonetheless, resulting in a targeting ejection. 

As for the offense, sophomore quarterback Bryce Young got picked off in the end zone. A handoff to Brian Robinson Jr. was high, and bounced to the ground for a lost fumble. Third downs were being dominated by the Texas A&M defense. There were way too many dropped passes and missed opportunities.

Consequently, Alabama fans were seeing a lot of unfamiliar statistics, like:

• Alabama was trailing for the first time in 15 games, since hosting Georgia last season (Oct. 17, 2020).

• It was the first time the Crimson Tide trailed at the end of a quarter in 59 quarters.

• At 17-7, Alabama was facing its largest deficit since LSU two years ago.

Then special teams contributed. 

After Ja'Corey Brooks blocked a punt, with King Mwikuta landing on the ball in the end for a touchdown, Devon Achane returned the subsequent kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. 

Saban called it a huge momentum shift after pulling to within 31-24. 

Yet it was reflective about how Texas A&M desperately wanted to win this game, while Alabama had forgotten what it was like to lose. It had been 679 days since the Crimson Tide had experienced one, before many of the starters were even on the roster. 

The Aggies (4-2) kept limping off the field, including quarterback Zach Calzada after taking what looked like a blow to the knee. They came back, though, with the quarterback leading the game-winning drive. 

Meanwhile, on the other sideline, Young slammed down his foot in frustration when Alabama had to settle for its third field goal to pull within 31-30. It was another on a long list of missed opportunities.  

"I have to do better," said Young, who was 24-for-48 for 369 yards and three passing touchdowns, but matched by Calzada in that final statistic. 

Sometimes it seems like the stars have to align for teams to beat Alabama these days, and with good reason. It doesn't happen very often, and when it does it's usually the result of something spectacular or extremely improbable.

The deflection against Ole Miss. The Kick-6. You get the idea. 

Texas A&M fits that mold. 

Alabama (5-1, 2-1 SEC) can still reach the SEC Championship Game, make the College Football Playoff and possibly play for the national title. 

Whether it does will largely depend on the players and how much this team improves the rest of the way. 

How bad do they want it? Like the way Texas A&M played tonight and South Carolina did 11 years ago? 

That's what it'll take. 

"We just didn't execute," Saban said.

Christopher Walsh's column regularly appears on BamaCentral.