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There’s really no other way to say it – Alabama didn’t see this coming.
Few people thought Auburn would be as bad as it was in 2012, but the number of people who expected the Tigers to be 10-1 and just on the outside of a BCS Championship Game matchup probably wouldn’t be enough to fill a taxicab. And that’s including Lee County residents.
With several teams still left undefeated in major college football this late in November, the subject of “style points” is sure to come up in any discussion of which team or teams should be ranked atop the standings.
The only style points Alabama put up against Mississippi State on Saturday was in showing how stylishly a team could dismiss the fallout of turnovers.
Alabama’s 20-7 win over the Bulldogs will probably be enough to keep Alabama atop the BCS standings. The effort behind that victory won’t be enough to beat Auburn in two weeks.Continue reading …
Mississippi State is a team in transition in 2013. And unfortunately for the Bulldogs, it’s a transition from contender to bottom-feeder.
The Bulldogs have become, overall, a respectable SEC team under head coach Dan Mullen, but have yet to take the next step up. Mullen has become somewhat notable, not necessarily for his successes, but rather for his struggles against other SEC West opponents. He also heads the program that lost Cam Newton to Auburn in 2010, and in seasons since, the program endured allegations of NCAA rules violations. No SEC program embodies the concept of “almost” quite like Mississippi State.
But the biggest problem Mississippi State faces in the here and now, is that this is a team that continues to lose ground to all six of its SEC West competitors in regards to talent. MSU’s recruiting has always been scattershot, no matter the name on the head coach’s door. And in 2013, the Bulldogs find themselves rebuilding a defense undercut by graduation, and a depth chart that has suffered several key losses due to injury. Questionable handling of the quarterback situation has done Mississippi State no favors, either.Continue reading …
For the entirety of Nick Saban’s tenure as Alabama head coach, the Alabama-LSU game has held special meaning, and not just because Saban used to coach in Baton Rouge.
Almost every year the two teams have met, something important has been on the line for both teams, usually involving the SEC West lead or even a top-5 ranking. But this year is a bit different. While Alabama comes into the game ranked No. 1 in the country and with much still to play for, LSU is all but out of both the national title race and the race for an SEC championship.
And it wasn’t completely unexpected. LSU suffered substantial losses on the defensive side of the ball after the 2012 season concluded, and this is not the throat-choking juggernaut of a team that is has been in previous seasons. LSU is a rather average 50th in rushing defense, and the secondary, while still very good, isn’t filled with the same lockdown-style athletes as opponents are accustomed to facing. But offensively, this team has gone from being strong to very dangerous, thanks to an upgrade at the offensive coordinator position.Continue reading …
For a period of time about 15 years ago or so, the SEC football world revolved around Florida and Tennessee.
Phil Fulmer had built the Volunteers into a powerhouse, putting out NFL players left and right and – at least in years he could get by Steve Spurrier’s Florida team – annually threatening the top of the AP and Coaches’ polls. In addition, Tennessee enjoyed a cozy relationship with the SEC office, and there was little hiding the fact that Tennessee wanted to consign Alabama to the SEC’s second tier, or worse.
Funny what a difference a decade makes.Continue reading …
For Alabama fans who appreciate nostalgia, they’ll get plenty of it when Arkansas comes to town this week.
Why? Because they’ll swear Danny Ford was back in Fayetteville.
Bret Bielema took over the Arkansas program this spring after John L. Smith was mercifully let go after a season that could justifiably be called the most disappointing – relative to expectations – in the history of Arkansas football. The Razorbacks were coming off a string of high-scoring seasons under Bob Petrino, and the program was threatening to punch into the elite of the SEC West.
And then Bob Petrino got in a motorcycle accident, got caught lying about an affair and was relieved of his duties as the Razorback head coach. The coach of the Hogs had been thrown off his Hog and was found to have been acting like a pig.Continue reading …
The middle of the season seems to mark a tipping point for Nick Saban-coached Alabama football teams.
If one doesn’t count the initial 2007 season, the following key games occurred at or near the midpoint of Saban’s other seasons: In 2008, Alabama’s fifth game of the year was the now-infamous “Blackout” game in Athens, Ga., where the Tide won 41-30 in a game that was made respectable only by a couple of late Georgia touchdowns well after the results had been decided. In 2009, Saban’s first championship season with the Crimson Tide, the seventh game of the year came against South Carolina in Tuscaloosa, otherwise known as the game that won Mark Ingram a Heisman Trophy.Continue reading …
Reports out of Oxford this week tell the tale of Ole Miss players taking to Twitter to brag about a coming upset, and being a bit loose-lipped in media interviews about their opinions of the 2013 Alabama team, particularly the Crimson Tide’s pass defense.
It doesn’t seem to matter than Alabama’s pass defense has given up natch to any quarterback not nicknamed Johnny Football, or that this is a team coming off consecutive national titles and neither one were by accident. Whatever Ole Miss saw in the Texas A&M tape has certainly gotten the Rebels into a lather, and it will be up to Alabama to do something about it Saturday night. Ole Miss is probably the second-toughest game left on the Tide schedule outside of LSU.Continue reading …
For once, Alabama seemed to have been graced with a manageable schedule. After years of the Crimson Tide suffering through Roy Kramer-era schedules rife with curious off-week placement, unbalanced off-week rotations with opponents and frequent stacking of contender-quality opposition, the 2013 Tide schedule must have looked like a vacation at first glance.Continue reading …
Alabama has looked choppy in openers before, including the last time these two teams met in Atlanta. But Alabama is playing a different game than Virginia Tech or approximately 110 other Division-IA programs are in 2013: Alabama is shooting for a national championship, and the product Alabama put on the field Saturday will have to improve by leaps and bounds to avoid being upset along the way. Alabama’s offense looked, quite frankly, inept. Aside from a couple of outstanding individual plays from running back T.J. Yeldon and one long pass play by A.J. McCarron to – who else? – Christion Jones, the Tide offense was badly out of sorts for most of the game.Continue reading …