ATLANTA — This won't last forever, of course.
Alabama won't keep winning all the time. Still, this Crimson Tide football machine isn't slowing down anytime soon.
We see signs all the time saying, "We want Bama!" We've seen videos of whole stadiums chanting "We Want Bama!"
I'm sure Miami wanted Bama.
Then they actually got Bama.
Alabama whipped the Hurricanes 44-13 on Saturday. Like that Sugar Bowl between these two schools 29 years ago, the score looks closer than the game really was. (Alabama won that one 34-13 to clinch the Tide's last non-Nick Saban national championship.)
Sports dynasties always end sooner than you think they will … except the juggernaut Saban has built.
It just keeps going on and on and on and on. And it keeps getting stronger, too.
Last year, Alabama put together maybe the best season in modern college football history. At least, the analytics put together by College Football Reference and USA Today's Sagarin ratings put the 2020 Alabama squad as the most dominant in the last 30 years.
Alabama already had won five national titles under Saban, but the sixth one raised the bar above any of the previous ones.
That Alabama offense had the nation's best tackle (Alex Leatherwood), the best center (Landon Dickerson), the best running back (Najee Harris), the best quarterback (Mac Jones), one of the best guards (Deonte Brown) and the best player (receiver DeVonta Smith). They're all gone.
So is the offensive line coach, the running backs coach and the mastermind who called the plays, Steve Sarkisian.
Still, when Alabama returned for its 2021 opener Saturday, it didn't look like it had missed a beat. Saban has lost bus loads of assistant coaches to other schools and star players to the NFL in wholesale numbers, but Alabama keeps winning. Saban's worst slump was that 11-2 season in 2019 when the Tide didn't make the playoffs.
On Saturday, sophomore Bryce Young made his first start at quarterback and looked much more polished than someone in his position should.
He threw for 344 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He showed he's a better runner than Jones was, and it was kind of fun watching him scramble and find somebody while on the move.
The offensive line was solid. The receivers were good. The running back room is full of good athletes who can handle the job, especially Brian Robinson, who looks ready to be the featured back.
Defensively, Alabama was sterling before losing focus after building a big lead.
There was only one moment where it looked like Miami might make Alabama sweat. On the Hurricanes' first drive of the second half, they looked fast, aggressive and ready. The Tide defense momentarily got pushed back on its heels.
They eventually had first-and-goal at the Tide 8, but the drive ended when Alabama's Henry To'oTo'o and Will Anderson Jr. crushed Miami quarterback D'Eriq King on a fourth-and-one keeper.
After that, you could figure what was going to happen pretty quickly after that: Young threw to Ohio State transfer receiver Jameson Williams for a 94-yard touchdown.
The officials threw a flag against Miami for roughing the passer of the play. That's kind of like getting pushed down into the mud and then having the dog lift his leg on you.
That eliminated the last, small doubt that Alabama wasn't going to blow the Hurricanes out of the stadium.
If you want to argue that Miami wasn't a very good test for Alabama, that's a fair point. Then again, who is these days? Miami is from a Power Five conference. They're probably better than about half the Southeastern Conference.
If Alabama wasn't such lightyears ahead of 98 percent of college football, we would consider a team like Miami a good match for a season opener.
Want a better neutral-site game? Invite somebody better to play Alabama. Better yet, don't invite Alabama at all. The list of teams that could challenge a typical Nick Saban team is pretty dang short, and it's an easy guess that they don't really want to play Alabama this early in the year.
It's hard to blame Alabama for accepting the invitation. The Peach Bowl — which runs this particular kickoff game — offered the school $5 million to come to Atlanta. Why shouldn't Alabama take that money to face whatever patsy the organizers stick on the other sideline?
In the end, it's like we said: we don't know when this will end.
I never thought Alabama would be as good as it was under Bear Bryant, and then Nick Saban came, and it's been even better.
I never thought Saban would have a better team at Alabama than his 2012 squad, and then last year's team came, and it was better.
I never thought Alabama would look as good Saturday as that 2020 team, and then it did. Will it be better? At this point, who knows?