TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Nick Saban has been in this situation before.
His team has won a big game away from home and is coming back to Bryant-Denny Stadium to face what some would perceive to be a lesser opponent.
Saban has seen his teams get overconfident in these games. They don't lose because of the sheer talent differential, but it still irks Saban more than most things.
Alabama beat Texas A&M 49-42 Saturday in a game that lived up to its pregame hype. Now, Alabama faces a stretch of five home games in six weeks before hosting LSU after a bye in what will surely be a huge game. The Crimson Tide will host Colorado State this weekend and Georgia State in three weeks.
But sandwiched in the middle is a game that could give Alabama a little bit of trouble: Ole Miss.
The Rebels are off to a hot start, and last year, they were one of the few teams that Alabama didn't have put away by halftime. Ole Miss' offense had success early on in that game (like Texas A&M) last year but didn't have the athletes to take Alabama down to the wire.
This year they might.
The first order of business, though, is Colorado State.
Last year, Alabama faced a similar situation coming off of its thrashing of Michigan. The Crimson Tide were coming home to face Western Kentucky, and Saban saw the signs early.
"We did play two teams in these neutral-site games before and played horrible the next week, because a lot of the same kind of stuff happened," he said at the time. "We play the games for a reason."
Alabama struggled in a 35-0 win, and Saban was able to use that as a teaching point for the rest of the year.
It remains to be seen how the Crimson Tide will respond to such a big win over Texas A&M. But Saban is still preaching many of the same concepts.
"There's no question, I don't feel like we are where we need to be as a team," he said Monday. "There's definitely many, many things that we need to improve on."
The main area of improvement he can point to is the defense.
The unit gave up more yards (628) last week to Texas A&M than any game in Alabama's illustrious history. And the Aggies scored more points than Saban has ever allowed as head coach at Alabama.
Which brings us back to Ole Miss. The Rebels will come to town in two weeks with a hurry-up offense led by a confident quarterback that had small stretches of success against Alabama last year.
Now, Bo Wallace obviously isn't on the same level as Johnny Manziel, but the Rebels are a more dangerous team this year. Ole Miss hauled in the No. 4 recruiting class a year ago, according to 247sports, and are off to a fast start offensively.
Simply put: Ole Miss is not the game where Alabama needs to have a letdown.
It starts with Colorado State, where Saban will be looking for a strong performance from his team all around.
A week before the dangerous Rebels come to town.
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