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Wisconsin preview: Badgers hope one dimension is enough against Bama

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.

Previews 2015: Alabama Crimson Tide

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Previews 2015: Alabama Crimson Tide

The Crimson Tide is hoping to ride a defense that might have 11 upperclassman starters to a title in 2015, but doing so will require a fast rebuild on the offensive side of the ball, not to mention navigating a schedule that many deem to be the most difficult in the nation. Other challenges include a spotty situation at placekicker and the shuffling of coaching personnel, primarily on defense.

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The year in review in the SEC

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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.

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

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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 wrap-up: Tide coming together at the right time

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MSU wrap-up: Tide coming together at the right time

Given that top-ranked Mississippi State was an underdog in Saturday’s game, it would be incorrect to call this Alabama win an upset.

It would, however, be appropriate for college football’s new Playoff Committee to finally acknowledge what the oddsmakers were trying to tell them beforehand: Alabama is probably the best, most complete team in college football right now.

Oregon will probably claim its high-flying offense makes it the most dangerous; Florida State can point to Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston and its undefeated record and claim it’s the best team in the land. But Alabama is beginning to win games with defense, sort of an anachronism in today’s college football world, and as de rigueur as high-powered offenses are at the moment, a strong defense beats a strong offense most of time, as much as that might chafe those in an around the sport that have become addicted to points.

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

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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

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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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Texas A&M wrap-up: Seriously, where did this come from?

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Texas A&M wrap-up: Seriously, where did this come from?

Saturday’s win over Texas A&M didn’t just set an Alabama record for most points scored in a quarter (35, in the second frame). It also set a TideFans.com record for most incorrect game preview of all time.

That second record was set both in the objective realm and the subjective realm. Objectively, the pregame pick of Texas A&M 27-24 was off by a total of 62 points (Alabama was underscored by 35; A&M was overscored by 27). Subjectively, the game played out almost precisely the opposite of the way it was foreseen.

And that’s the reason that suddenly, Alabama can get excited about its season once again – provided it can harness whatever fount of emotion it tapped into against the Aggies.

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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 Wrap-Up: Nice to get a win, but Bama has issues

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Arkansas Wrap-Up: Nice to get a win, but Bama has issues

It is the height of irony that the principal reason for Alabama scoring more points than Arkansas Saturday came as a result of a special teams play on the part of the Crimson Tide.

A’Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen have been crushing opponents’ field goal and extra-point formations all season long. And, for the second consecutive week, one of those plays gave Alabama the opportunity to win.

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