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Texas A&M’s Road To ‘Greatness’ Runs Through Alabama

The unavoidable truth is that if the Aggies want to fulfill their mission of a national title, at some point, they will have to beat the Crimson Tide

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said something that struck me as interesting a couple of weeks ago. He was talking about the Aggies’ win over New Mexico, but he could have been talking about the lead-up to this Saturday’s game with Alabama.

“How to play the game and how to play winning football at a high level is two different things.”

In this era of college football you can add a third piece to that statement:

‘And a road to a national title goes through Alabama.’

To be a great team, to win a national championship, the path goes through Alabama. That sounds hyperbolic, naturally. But in this era, it’s actually true.

The Aggies will never get where they desire, whether it be an SEC championship or a College Football Playoff championship, without beating Alabama (and, yes, I’m fully aware the Aggies have beaten Alabama once since joining the SEC).

READ MORE: Does Texas A&M Survive The AP Poll Rankings?

Here’s the proof.

In the 2009 season, Alabama reached the mountaintop, beating Texas in the national championship game. It was the Crimson Tide’s first title since the Gene Stallings era and the validation of hiring coach Nick Saban away from the Miami Dolphins.

Since then, Alabama has won five additional national titles, both in the BCS format and in the College Football Playoff format. But, Alabama has also lost games — 15 of them, in fact. As mentioned, the Aggies can claim one of those wins, back in 2012. In four seasons, the Crimson Tide overcame at least one loss to win a national title. In fact, Alabama’s undefeated national title a season ago was its first since 2009.

But that leaves six others seasons without a national title. So what happened?

Well, in 2010, Auburn won the national title. The Tigers had to beat Alabama to get out of the SEC West.

Back in 2014, Alabama overcame a loss to get into the CFP. But Ohio State beat the Tide in the semifinals, and the Buckeyes won the national title a week later.

In 2016 and 2018, Alabama was undefeated before it ran into Clemson in the national title game, and the Tigers won each of those games.

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Then, in 2019, Alabama lost two games, one of which was to LSU, and the Tigers went on to the national title with Joe Burrow at quarterback (cue the cigar-smoking meme).

READ MORE: Time To Blame Jimbo Fisher For Texas A&M Woes?

As with rules, there are always exceptions, and there is one, and it’s an interesting one for Aggie fans. That was in 2013. Alabama missed the final BCS national title game, losing to Auburn in the Iron Bowl (cue the ‘Kick Six’ video) and failing to reach the SEC Championship game. The Tigers did capitalize on that win, claiming the SEC Championship game and then advancing to the national title game. The Tigers’ opponent?

Fisher and the Florida State Seminoles. The Seminoles won that game.

Since Alabama went on this run, Florida State is the ONLY program, and Fisher is the ONLY coach, to win a national title and NOT have to beat Alabama to do it. Everyone else’s path forced them into the path of the best program in college football. And they met the moment.

Fisher no longer has the luxury of luck. The Aggies brought him to College Station to meet THAT moment. As long as he’s at Texas A&M, his path will take him and his Aggies through Alabama. The Aggies must, at some point, beat Alabama to reach the top. Especially as long as Saban is coach.

“He's (Saban) done a great job and he's built a great culture there,” Fisher said on Monday. “They understand how to win, they understand how to do these things and they build it in there.”

So Fisher’s right.

“How to play the game and how to play winning football at a high level is two different things.”

And Alabama is the only gateway to get there.

Of course, it WOULD help if the Aggies hadn’t lost two games already. But, hey, file that away for next year, right? Because Alabama isn’t going anywhere.

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