Having spent five years as a head coach in the Big Ten, Nick Saban knows what it’s like to play Michigan.
With Alabama beginning UM preparation today, Saban was asked to recall his best and worst memories facing the Wolverines while at Michigan State.
“Two come to mind like that,” he said, snapping his fingers. “One good, one bad.”
In the bad one, Michigan State led 14-3 with about 45 seconds left in the game. The Spartans had bad field position on third-and-5 and the quarterback threw an incomplete pass. With about 30 seconds left, MSU decided to punt.
“And we were happy to punt and be ahead 14-3,” he said.
The official called roughing the passer on the quarterback and Michigan State got a 15-yard penalty that put them at the 45-yard line, Saban said.
“So we said, ‘Let’s try and steal a field goal out of this,’” he said. “So we go two-minute right out of the box, the quarterback throws a slant, the safety runs it down from a cover two in a three-deep zone, picks it off and runs 45 yards for a touchdown.”
It was 14-10 with less than 30 seconds to play.
“They kick off to us, they pooch kick, we fumble, they recover," Saban said. "[Charles] Woodson was still there because I still remember this: they line, after the scramble for the ball, there’s about 15 seconds to go, they run two plays, don’t score, there’s like seven seconds to go and they put Woodson in at receiver. He runs a post and they throw him the ball and he scores a touchdown.
“So in like 40 seconds, 35 seconds in the game, we go from being ahead 14-3 to behind 17-14 at Michigan. That was the worst story.”
Saban’s best story was short and sweet. It was when Michigan State beat Michigan 31-28 while Tom Brady was quarterback.
The following week the Spartans, who Saban said were undefeated at that point in the season, played Drew Brees and Purdue.
“He drilled us,” Saban said, laughing. “I remember that, too.”
For more Alabama coverage, follow Laken Litman on Twitter!