Saban witnessed the Huskers' mid-'90s power in person his first two years as head coach at Michigan State. Nebraska went into Spartan Stadium and won 50-10 in 1995, then put a 55-14 whipping to MSU in Lincoln the next year.
"The score did not indicate how bad they beat us," Saban said of the first meeting. "I'm thinking we're never going to win a game. I must have taken a bad job, wrong job, no players, something.
"I remember Coach Osborne when we shook hands after the game, he put his arm around me and whispered in my ear, 'You're not really as bad as you think.' So I think he knew he had a pretty good team. And we actually ended up winning six games, so we weren't really probably as bad as I thought."
Wistrom said the most impressive thing about Alabama's roll is that it's occurred at a time when talent is spread out more than ever and more underclassmen are leaving school for the NFL.
The '90s Huskers and current Tide had similar personnel, and both played a bruising style of football.
Quarterback Tommie Frazier of Nebraska and A.J. McCarron of Alabama were undisputed team leaders. Nebraska had a beefy offensive line that cleared the way for Frazier, Lawrence Phillips and Ahman Green. The Tide's powerful lines have opened holes for greats like Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy.
McCarron is a superior passer to Frazier, but Frazier left his mark as perhaps the greatest triple-option quarterback ever.
Wistrom and fellow All-American Jason Peter anchored Nebraska's defensive lines. The Tide has had at least one defensive lineman drafted each of the past three years, and Jesse Williams is a sure bet to make it four in a row.