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The year in review in the SEC

The year in review in the SEC

Listed here are all 14 SEC teams, split into divisions, with their current records in bold type and our preseason predictions in italic type. And for those who have forgotten TideFans.com’s preseason picks for college football’s inaugural final four playoff, our picks included Florida State in second, Alabama in third and Ohio State in fourth. The team we missed? Read on to find out.

SECCG wrap-up: Tigers can’t play spoiler to Bama’s storybook run

This may not be the most dominating Alabama team in the school’s long, multi-championship history. But it is one of the most likable.

Every time Nick Saban talks about the 2014 edition of the Crimson Tide, his genuine affection for the team comes flooding out. Unlike the 2013 team, which suffered from leadership-related short circuits on both sides of the ball, the 2014 Alabama team is a strange combination of lunchpail mentality with the quick-strike ability of a coiled rattlesnake. The offense is led by the country’s unlikeliest elite quarterback, who is built like a sawed-off fireplug, runs like a whippet and has an uncanny knack for rising to the occasion.

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MSU preview: For perhaps the first time ever, Bama is the hunter, not the hunted

Alabama is coming off its annual exposure to trench warfare, otherwise known as the LSU game, and the results were almost too terrible to imagine. Alabama needed a last-minute, game-tying drive and an overtime period to defeat the Bayou Bengals, and the Tide’s reward is a date with a Bulldog team that is more dynamic offensively, has better speed at the quarterback position and who spent last week toying with UT-Martin.

If this game was being played in Starkville, it would be even more of a circus than it figures to be in Tuscaloosa. But with Alabama’s home-field performances being so strong in 2014, the top concern might not be Mississippi State, but the annual post-LSU hangover from which the Crimson Tide always seems to suffer.

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LSU wrapup: Tide wasn’t great, but it was relentless

For a time during Alabama’s last-minute drive to tie the game and its lone series in overtime to win it, it seemed like every player who had ever been a part of a negative play in Alabama history was taking turns coming onto the field and redeeming himself.

Adam Griffith, who had missed a 27-yard kick early in the game, made another 27-yard kick to tie the game. Christion Jones, whose senior season has been one missed opportunity after another, made the catch of his life to set up Griffin’s game-tying kick. O.J. Howard set up Jones’ catch with several short catches of his own. And then Nick Perry, whose greatest sin as a safety in Alabama’s defense is that he’s not as good as Landon Collins, broke up a pass on the game’s penultimate play.

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Tennessee wrap-up: Sims’ statement drive ices game for Crimson Tide

While Ole Miss was blinking in the spotlight – a function of not having been in the spotlight in 40-plus years – Alabama proved against Tennessee that the bigger the moment gets, the bigger the Crimson Tide usually plays.

It won’t go down as the signature win of the season – Alabama will have to work hard to top the 59-0 pasting of Texas A&M last week, although LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn remain on the schedule – but Blake Sims probably had the signature drive. Up 27-17 in the third quarter and badly needing a score to put Alabama three scores ahead again, Sims led Alabama to four third-down conversions before Derrick Henry polished off the Volunteers with a long touchdown run.

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Tennessee preview: Vols still struggling, but look to give Alabama a fight

During Alabama’s 2009 title run, the Crimson Tide hosted an outmanned, outgunned and thoroughly mediocre Tennessee Volunteer team for what most people expected to be a blowout win.

Four quarters later, Alabama had to rely on two blocked field goals from Terrence Cody in order to advance past Tennessee – a Tennessee team coached by current Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

In the years since, Alabama has usually defeated Tennessee by a wide margin in the end. In very few of those cases, however, did Alabama dominate from start to finish. Establishing large, early leads and putting the game to bed early is a concept not often found in this series.

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

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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.

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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 wrapup: If Alabama wants to be the best, it must play that way

There is little mystery as to why Alabama finds itself tonight a one-loss football team: It’s not playing well enough to be better than that.

Even if there was no controversy over the Tide’s second-quarter strip-and-score touchdown by Cyrus Jones, Alabama was having problems in this game and the future schedule will present many similar problems unless Alabama figures out how to play like their National Signing Day pedigrees suggest it can be done.

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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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