Naysaying fans across the country weren't the only ones who believed Alabama football had nothing to play for in the Sugar Bowl. The Crimson Tide's counterpart Kansas State Wildcats even went public with that assumption, questioning whether Alabama's horde of highly ranked recruits had the “heart” to battle with the purple-and-silver after missing out on the College Football Playoff.
It was Alabama who did all the talking after the Sugar Bowl, though, taking extra satisfaction from their 45-20 win by proving the Wildcats wrong.
“We took that personal,” Crimson Tide offensive tackle JC Latham told AL.com in the postgame locker room. “Like, yeah, we have high-ranked players but we don’t have heart. We went into the game trying to prove a point.”
Bryce Young ended his sterling college career on a high note, throwing for 321 yards and five touchdowns while completing 15-of-21 passes, winning the game's Most Outstanding Player award. Fellow likely top-10 draft pick Will Anderson Jr. and the Alabama defense made their presence felt, too, collecting two interceptions, two sacks and eight tackles for loss.
The underdog Wildcats actually held a 10-o lead early in the first quarter, only adding fuel to Alabama's already burning competitive fire.
“Not to knock any other conferences, but it’s different when you play in the SEC,” Latham said. “We play for four quarters. I’m sure they play four quarters all year but I don’t think they played anybody like us.”
Alabama finishes 11-2, its 12th straight season with at least 11 victories.
“It means everything to us,” Latham said of . “You can say it was a personal game. There were so many things people had against us. Just like, really? Of all the things? So we just wanted to go out and silence the crowd one last time before the season was over with.”