Utah State head coach Blake Anderson is not one to mince words and he didn’t late Saturday night, following the Aggies’ 55-0 loss to No. 1-ranked Alabama.
Having seen the Crimson Tide up close and in person, Anderson was convinced — this year’s Alabama team is the best he’s ever seen.
“This is the best team I’ve seen in pads in my career in 30 years of coaching,” Anderson said, “and they played like it tonight.”
There is no need to rehash how dominant Alabama was. The fact is that the Crimson Tide simply out-classed the Aggies in every way, not unlike what they’ve done to many opponents during the Nick Saban era.
“That is the best group of players I’ve ever seen on the field,” Anderson said, “They didn’t make a lot of mistakes... Ultimately we got out-athleted. In some areas you can be right where you are supposed to be and not make the play. Physically we got outmatched most of the night.”
Alabama might be the best team Anderson has seen in his career, but are they the best team Utah State has played?
The Aggies have competed against 70 AP Top 25 teams in their history and are now 6-64 all time in those games. Utah State is 0-3 all-time against the top-ranked team in country, and since 1970, Utah State has played against and lost to three eventual national champions — the Nebraska Cornhuskers in 1971, the Oklahoma Sooners in 1974, and most recently the Joe-Burrow led LSU Tigers in 2019.
All three of those teams have an argument to being better than Alabama.
The 1971 Cornhuskers are generally considered considered the best or second-best team of all time and ESPN’s all-time rankings have them at very top.
“Many consider the 1971 version of the Cornhuskers the best college football team ever, and we can’t find any reason to disagree,” the rankings read. “The team averaged more than 39 points a game on offense, and surrendered only 8.2 points a game.
“Led by kick and punt returner par excellence Johnny Rodgers (who won the 1972 Heisman), the top-ranked Cornhuskers defeated No. 2 Oklahoma 35-31 on Thanksgiving Day, in what some have called the “Game of the Century.” They rounded out their 13-0 season with a 38-6 drubbing of Alabama in the Orange Bowl.”
The 1974 Sooners weren’t too shabby either, though, even if they were probation and barred by the NCAA from postseason play. Oklahoma averaged a sport-best 43 points per game in 1974, and finished 11-0 with 10 victories of at least 14 points.
“The Sooners dominated college football in 1973 and 1974, going 21-0-1, so it wasn’t easy to pick between the two squads,” ESPN writes. “But we give the ‘74 squad the nod because it won its first national title under legendary coach Barry Switzer.
“Led by defensive end Lee Roy Selmon (the NFL’s No. 1 pick in 1976), Dewey Selmon (an All-American noseguard), linebacker Rod Shoate (AP and UPI Defensive Player of the Year) and halfback Joe Washington (AP and UPI Offensive Player of the Year), the ground-based Sooners (they averaged 74 rushes a game, the most in Oklahoma history) twice won games by scores of 63-0, and also drubbed Utah State, 72-3.”
Then there are Tigers in 2019, who led by Burrow, have a pretty good argument to being the best team in the College Football Playoff era.
LSU was the most prolific offensive team ever, scoring 726 total points, scoring at least 36 points in 14 of their 15 games. The Tigers defeated seven Top 10 teams on the way to their championship, and Burrow was quite simply astounding, throwing for 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns.
Of course, this year Alabama has the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Bryce Young, arguably the best defender in all of college football in linebacker Will Anderson Jr., and six additional players who rank among the top 100 in the country, per ESPN, including:
- Running back Jahmyr Gibbs
- Safety Jordan Battle
- Linebacker Dallas Turner
- Cornerback Eli Ricks
- Linebacker Henry To’oTo’o
- Offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor Jr.
Throw in the arguably the greatest college football coach of all-time in Nick Saban, plus no shortage of motivation after losing to Georgia in the 2021 national championship game, and there is every chance that by the end of the year, Alabama will be one of the greatest teams of all-time.
Not to mention possibly the best Utah State has ever faced.
The Aggies’ head coach sure seems to think Alabama has a chance of doing something special at least.
“Everybody we saw tonight was as advertised,” Anderson said. “They (Alabama) were as good as I thought. This is the best team I’ve ever seen put on pads and I expect them to win a lot of games.”