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Texas A&M preview: Vegas may have this one wrong

Texas A&M preview: Vegas may have this one wrong

TideFans.com doesn’t often make reference to betting lines, as that’s not our thing. But when Alabama opened up as roughly a two-touchdown favorite over Texas A&M, it got everyone’s attention in the sports media world.

Alabama, a team that had just scraped to a 14-13 victory over Arkansas, the SEC West’s presumptive worst team, was being made a two-touchdown favorite over a team that beat Alabama in Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2012, carried the Crimson Tide to the wire in College Station in 2013, and has many of the same pieces returning from those teams in 2014. On the face, it doesn’t make sense.

Arkansas preview: Razorbacks smell blood in the water as Bama comes to town

Whether Arkansas actually follows through with doing the near-impossible this weekend, it won’t be for a lack of confidence that the impossible can be done.

In year two of Bret Bielema’s tenure in Fayetteville, Arkansas might not be one of the SEC’s best teams, but it’s not from a lack of believing. And with Alabama coming to town fresh off being made to look very mortal by Ole Miss, the Razorbacks will surely speak with a noticeably louder oink this week.

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Ole Miss preview: Bama will find out whether Rebels are for real

A quick glance at defensive statistics this season would seem to suggest that no, Ole Miss’ 2013 defensive improvement was not a mirage. The Rebels have put up impressive numbers through the first third of the 2014 season, and the confidence gained from their performance have given Ole Miss’ players a great deal of confidence heading into this game.

For Alabama, though, it’s just another verse to a familiar song, one sung by Ole Miss players and fans insistent that the current season will be different from those of the last 50 years. And while Ole Miss has a stout defense in 2014, to be sure, the Rebels’ offensive capabilities – particularly in the running game – simply haven’t been good enough to merit discussion of the Rebels-as-contenders subject.

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Florida preview: Struggles with Kentucky belie Gators’ true talents

As the final few plays in Florida’s overtime win over Kentucky went by the boards, there were two schools of thought concerning the Gators. The first was that Will Muschamp needed to visit the nearest Laser Copy and start getting resumes ready; the second was that this Gators team, despite its struggles against Kentucky, still has enough talent to win any game on its schedule.

And, now that Florida refused to fold against Kentucky, you can add the adjective “resilient” to the mix.

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USM preview: Woeful Golden Eagles can’t recapture past magic

There was a time when Southern Miss was a better yearly opponent for Alabama than some SEC teams.

A couple of Alabama-Southern Miss games are noteworthy, for all the wrong reasons. There was the Reggie Collier-led upset of one of Paul “Bear” Bryant’s last Alabama teams. And then there was the 21-0 loss to USM in 2000 that should have been the impetus for firing Mike DuBose.

This Southern Miss team, though, is nothing like those teams.

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WVU preview: Mountaineer team was in a valley in 2013

Just about the time West Virginia head coach Dana Holgersen was being anointed as the next big thing in college coaches, the 2013 season happened.
West Virginia went 4-8 in 2013, and the problems were evident right off the bat, as West Virginia struggled to beat William & Mary in the opener, 24-17, then had losses to Oklahoma and Maryland by a combined score of 53-7, sandwiching a win over FBS pretender Georgia State. The offense than Holgorsen took such great pride in having developed suddenly didn’t work.

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FAU preview: Bama has the tools to easily ground the Owls

Prior to meeting West Virginia in the opener, Alabama didn’t know what it had at the quarterback position.

Now, Florida Atlantic doesn’t know what it has, either.

An injury has likely claimed starter Jaquez Johnson, but if Johnson doesn’t play Saturday, Florida Atlantic’s already-slim chances of winning this game go out the window. Johnson’s dual-threat makeup and leadership skills make him the only real threat the Owls have on offense. Without him, FAU is toast – and the Owls seem to realize this, as despite the fact Johnson has a shoulder injury and Florida Atlantic needs him healthy for its Conference USA schedule, he has been upgraded to “probable” for the Alabama game.

But even with Johnson available for much of the opener against Nebraska, Florida Atlantic was routed, 55-7, and showed a complete lack of competitiveness. Alabama, meanwhile, is coming off a solid win over West Virginia that was far from perfect, but held promise for the future provided Alabama makes improvements on defense.

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WVU preview: Mountaineer team was in a valley in 2013

Just about the time West Virginia head coach Dana Holgersen was being anointed as the next big thing in college coaches, the 2013 season happened.

West Virginia went 4-8 in 2013, and the problems were evident right off the bat, as West Virginia struggled to beat William & Mary in the opener, 24-17, then had losses to Oklahoma and Maryland by a combined score of 53-7, sandwiching a win over FBS pretender Georgia State. The offense than Holgorsen took such great pride in having developed suddenly didn’t work.

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Previews 2014: Alabama Crimson Tide

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Previews 2014: Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama is one of the most interesting teams in college football in 2014, if for no other reason that a team one play away from a possible shot at a national championship, returning a nucleus of top talent and poised for yet another title run, is actually a team in transition. A new offensive coordinator is in town, the quarterback position is completely up in the air and changes are expected on the defensive side of the ball to correct a downward trend, particularly in front seven performance.

OFFENSE

Alabama is now the employer of one Lane Kiffin, former Tennessee head coach, NCAA scofflaw and general spoiled brat. At least that’s what he’s been in the eyes of Alabama fans until now. These days, he’s the hopeful savior of Alabama’s balanced, but ground-oriented offensive attack built around the idea that beating an opponent into a bloody coma is the pinnacle of college football strategy. But the ultimate determiner of style may be decided by which quarterback wins the starting job.

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Sugar Bowl wrap-up: What will this game mean for Alabama’s future?

By the time Oklahoma recovered the final kickoff – a so-bad-it-was-funny moment that served as the perfect capper to the 2014 Sugar Bowl – the time for mulling over what might have been was long gone.

For the second time in six years, Alabama laid an egg in the Sugar Bowl to an inferior team. But in that regard, the 2014 game was at least an improvement over the 2009 Sugar Bowl, since Oklahoma, unlike Utah, was a worthy opponent.

Twice now under Nick Saban, Alabama has lost a title shot after Thanksgiving and ended up in New Orleans playing for pride. Both times, the results left Alabama fans wondering whether anyone on the team seemed to care.

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