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CSU preview: Tide needs to get fast start, then sit starters

CSU preview: Tide needs to get fast start, then sit starters

It’s no mystery why Alabama scheduled Charleston Southern here. The Buccaneers’ offense makes a good analog for the Auburn offense Alabama will see a week from now. The Bucs are a quality opponent without being a real threat. If Alabama does mope around too much in this game, it could be a repeat of 2011, when the Crimson Tide let then-FCS Georgia Southern hang around almost too long, in a game that could have cost Bama a repeat shot at LSU had voters been turned off by the Tide’s performance. Ultimately, the goal is to get to the Auburn game with no further injuries, and with a convincing win in Alabama’s back pocket.

Tennessee preview: Vols could be a tougher foe than Bama expects

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Tennessee preview: Vols could be a tougher foe than Bama expects

Every season, one or two teams seem to rise above their typical watermarks and give Alabama a tougher game than it would otherwise appear on paper.

Alabama is hoping Ole Miss filled the role in Week 3, but in 2009, that team was Tennessee, then led by a young head coach named Lane Kiffin. It took two blocked field goals by DT Terrence Cody, the second coming as time ran out, for Alabama to hold onto the win and eventually play for a national championship.

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Texas A&M preview: Improving defense, explosive offense gives Aggies a chance

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Texas A&M preview: Improving defense, explosive offense gives Aggies a chance

Over its first few seasons after joining the SEC, Texas A&M felt like a jigsaw puzzle missing a couple of pieces.

The Aggies found those missing pieces after they hired John Chavis, the former Tennessee and LSU defensive coordinator, to coach them at the same position. Chavis immediately brought a toughness to the job that the Aggies had been lacking. Although Texas A&M is far from a defensive powerhouse in 2015, the improvement is noticeable, and more is expected in the future.

Alabama enters this game coming off its second physical test in a row. Alabama has beaten Georgia and Arkansas in successive weeks, and now must face the high-powered spread attack brought by Texas A&M. With rival Tennessee coming to Tuscaloosa the week after this game, many Alabama fans are worried that this contest has all the makings of a textbook trap game and upset.

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Arkansas recap: Hogs too limited to capitalize on Bama mistakes

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Arkansas recap: Hogs too limited to capitalize on Bama mistakes

Alabama football games are rarely defined by one quarter, but the Crimson Tide’s 27-14 win over Arkansas was almost entirely about the fourth quarter plus 1:39 of the third.

And it never should have come to that.

The Crimson Tide spun wheels for most of Saturday’s game against Arkansas, victimized by spotty offensive line play, inconsistent quarterback play and playcalling that often veered into the realm of the obtuse. But the best defensive line in college football – perhaps the best defensive front seven – and a secondary that continues to improve every week kept Arkansas from really doing anything about it.

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ULM Wrap-up: Bama gets its revenge, but did the Tide get better?

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ULM Wrap-up: Bama gets its revenge, but did the Tide get better?

Against an opponent like Louisiana-Monroe, there isn’t much a team like Alabama can do to make the experience a worthwhile endeavor.

Teams like Alabama are expected to win, win big, not struggle, keep everyone healthy, all without showing the next opponent anything of substance. Fail to accomplish one thing from that list and the game is often viewed as a failure, regardless of outcome.

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ULM Preview: Alabama has to set an identity while it still can

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ULM Preview: Alabama has to set an identity while it still can

The last time Louisiana-Monroe visited Bryant-Denny Stadium, the year was 2007 and Nick Saban was in the process of installing “The Process” into the Alabama program. By now, everyone knows what happened: A technically sound and well-coached Louisiana-Monroe squad upset a struggling and largely rudderless Alabama team, which at the time provided a source of great amusement for media across the country, but particularly the media of south Florida.

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Ole Miss wrap-up: Turnovers, QB play hurt, but poor defense finished off the Tide

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Ole Miss wrap-up: Turnovers, QB play hurt, but poor defense finished off the Tide

One of college football’s greatest attractions is that anything can (and does) happen each week to teams, good and bad. Unfortunately for Alabama, this includes a 66-yard Three Stooges act of a touchdown pass to Quincy Adeboyejo that the Tide will be seeing on a loop on ESPN SportsCenter for the next ten years. Those kinds of plays (think “Kick Six,” Johnny Manziel’s fumble TD pass, etc.) have certainly affected Alabama more than others in recent years, but they are only anomalies.

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MTSU wrap-up: Some things better, others worse than they looked

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MTSU wrap-up: Some things better, others worse than they looked

For Alabama fans who made the trek to Tuscaloosa Saturday to watch the development of quarterback Jake Coker, Alabama’s young receivers and a defense trying to convince the college football universe that 2014 was a statistical outlier, the Crimson Tide’s 37-10 win over Middle Tennessee State was decidedly a mixed bag.

Alabama ran up 532 total yards, which is becoming somewhat a normal occurrence for the Lane Kiffin-directed attack, but whether the offense actually made any progress is up for debate. What wasn’t, however, was that Alabama’s defense shut down a high-speed spread offense, which gives some hope for the future against contenders like Ole Miss and Auburn.

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Wisconsin recap: Typical Bama opener offers promise, shows need for improvement

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Wisconsin recap: Typical Bama opener offers promise, shows need for improvement

Alabama’s offense, retooled in the wake of Blake Sims’ departure, showed enough effectiveness to allay fears about the quarterback position. The defense stuffed the run, and the defensive line, as expected, dominated the line of scrimmage.

But Alabama didn’t show itself to be a flawless team. The pass defense was sketchy all night, particularly across the middle, and Alabama’s kicking game once again disappointed.

In other words, Nick Saban has his team right where he wants them.

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Wisconsin preview: Badgers hope one dimension is enough against Bama

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Wisconsin preview: Badgers hope one dimension is enough against Bama

For Wisconsin, a game against Alabama in Week 1 is a bit like engaging in a demolition derby – against a Ross Winans steam locomotive, rather than an old sedan.

Alabama has been, ever since Nick Saban’s arrival, a machine. It doesn’t always move fast, but it moves deliberately, it’s hard to stop and almost impossible to overpower. And while Alabama has made forays into what many observers like to call “modern football” – i.e., the hurry-up, no-huddle offenses and their variants – Alabama wins with brawn and depth.

Shortly after Barry Alvarez’s arrival in Madison, Wisc., the Badgers became somewhat of the Alabama of the Big Ten – Gene Stallings’ Alabama, that is. Wisconsin throws the ball only when a judge orders it. Otherwise, Wisconsin is content to bury its opponents under a pile of rubble, occasionally lobbing the ball to a receiver just to keep them interested. While Wisconsin finished the 2014 season with an impressive 11-3 record, the Badgers had their hands full with any team it couldn’t physically intimidate. Most notably, Wisconsin fell 59-0 to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game.

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