| NEWS Alabama Has Had Success In Football Road Games - 247Sports


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Country/Western music legend Willie Nelson can’t wait to get back on the road again, he sings. College football teams, maybe not so much.

They call it the home field advantage, and the guys in the desert who make betting lines reportedly assign a three-point differential in favor of the home boys.

That’s mostly about the home crowd. At some point, in most stadiums – particularly big stadiums --, the partisans discovered they could be a part of the team by making so much noise that the visiting team couldn’t call its signals. It could make an offensive lineman jump, make a quarterback have to waste a valuable time out.

They’d even resort to sportsmanship-be-damned tactics. After all, not every Mississippi State fan is a cow farmer who just happens to feel the need to bring one of Bossie’s bells to Starkville.

Former Alabama Coach Gene Stallings was wont to make a pre-home game plea to Crimson Tide fan-- that he really, really hoped that the Tide crowd would be respectful and that both teams would be able to call their signals. That seemed to be at least in some part just a reminder to the Bama crowd, particularly students, to do just the opposite.

The issue arises this week because Alabama is on the road Saturday, playing at massive and ordinarily high- decibel Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.

The Crimson Tide (5-0 overall, 2-0 in Southeastern Conference games) takes on the Aggies (3-2, 1-1) at 2:30 p.m. CDT Saturday with CBS televising. Bama is ranked first in the nation, TAMU No. 21.

A&M joined the SEC in 2012 and promptly had the biggest win the Aggies have enjoyed since they became a Texas ex. Johnny Manziel promoted himself to the Heisman Trophy as the Aggies upset Bama in Tuscaloosa, 29-24.

Since then the Tide record against A&M is 3-1 in Tuscaloosa and 3-0 in College Station with the Tide registering six straight wins.

For most of the Nick Saban Era, Alabama has played seven home games (four of them SEC games), four road games (all SEC), and anywhere from one to four neutral site games (kickoff games, SEC Championship Games, bowl games, national championship games).

Alabama’s overall record under Saban from 2007 through the 59-31 win over Ole Miss two Saturdays back is 151-21. (Feel free to let that 87.8 percent winning record sink in.)

Not a surprise, Bama has been very good in Bryant-Denny Stadium in the 12-plus years under Saban, a record of 80-7 (92 percent). Neutral site games, mostly against highly-regarded opposition, have been won at a 79.4 percent rate (27-7).

The true road game record is 44-7, which is 86.3 percent.

Obviously, Alabama is doing something right in preparing for road games. We know some of those things.

In preparation for road games, Alabama works at least one day a week in its indoor practice facility and pumps in crowd noise, music, etc. to simulate the noise that will be faced, forcing hand signals in place of audibles.

Every game is a simulated road game for Bama in that the Crimson Tide checks into a Tuscaloosa hotel for home games.

Go into a hotel where the Tide is staying for a road game or neutral site game and notice that the staff has graciously been provided with Alabama shirts and the hotel sports Bama décor (i.e., shakers, balloons, streamers).

Saban said, “I think playing on the road is a mindset from a competitive standpoint. You’ve got to have the mental toughness and discipline to stay focused on what you’re doing and not get affected by what’s happening around you. Some players -- and I think experience has something to do with this -- have a lot better chance to do that.

“I mean, noise is something we work on, which is probably the thing that can impact the game the most.

“But what I always tell players is the field’s going to be 53 yards wide and 100 yards deep, so what’s different about that? And you’ve got to be able to go focus and do what you’re supposed to do and keep your poise, regardless of what happens. And you’ve got to be able to overcome adversity, play the next play so you don’t create these momentum situations that can have an impact on the outcome on the game.”
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