We assume that college football teams have an advantage when playing at home. Visiting teams are bombarded with noise, thrown into unfamiliar surroundings and become victim to late-night hotel fire alarms.
But Alabama coach Nick Saban has a theory: His team plays better away from home.
“I never thought it was an issue until this year,” Saban said during his Monday press conference. “But, probably the three best games that we’ve played this year have all been on the road. Whether it was Wisconsin, Georgia, or this past game against Texas A&M.”
Those three wins — all against Top 25 teams at the time — came by a combined score of 114-50. For comparison’s sake, the Crimson Tide have gone 3-1 at home by a combined score of 135-67, including a loss to the only Top-25 team in that group (Ole Miss).
“I think it’s a matter of … being able to stay focused on what you need to do to do your job,” Saban said. “Play in and play out. Just because you’re at home, and whether it’s family, friends, the atmosphere, the distractions that that can create. As a mature competitor, you can’t be affected by external factors.”
Saban has long discussed the idea of “friendly fire,” when seemingly innocuous factors (ticket requests for family members, getting dinner with significant others, etc.) end up distracting players on the home side.
He also thinks that this Alabama team has an issue once it gets ahead on the scoreboard, and does not take advantage of the crowd’s energy to build on momentum-swinging plays.
“All of those things should be positive things that enhance your chances of competition,” Saban said. “It affects the other team. So it’s something that we’ve just got to continue to address. ”