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Texas A&M preview: Bama will see a familiar face in battle for SEC West

Texas A&M preview: Bama will see a familiar face in battle for SEC West

If this turns out to be yet another national championship year for Alabama, fans and sportswriters alike have a game they like to play: Find the one or two teams Alabama will struggle with on its way to the playoffs. Texas A&M is playing better than anyone left on Alabama’s schedule, and while LSU is more talented (and perhaps Auburn is as well), the Aggies seem to have jelled behind new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, and the leadership of Knight.

Kentucky preview: Wildcats have been a bust so far in 2016

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Kentucky preview: Wildcats have been a bust so far in 2016

Give credit to Stoops for correctly identifying Kentucky’s major problem upon his arrival – talent – but he has either not been able to remedy the problem quickly enough, or his staff is not developing the players it does get. Either explanation is bad news for the Wildcats this week, as they must try to fend off a dynamic Alabama team on the Crimson Tide’s homecoming.

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KSU wrap-up: Bama beats the heat, Golden Flashes in 48-0 rout

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KSU wrap-up: Bama beats the heat, Golden Flashes in 48-0 rout

Alabama defeated a poor KSU team 48-0, running up a 41-0 halftime score before having mercy on Nick Saban’s alma mater. Alabama played four quarterbacks and several walk-ons made the participation chart, including a couple that made career debuts. But early in the game, Alabama had a harder time escaping the attention of team doctors than it did the Kent State defense’s grasp.

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Previews 2016: Alabama Crimson Tide

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Previews 2016: Alabama Crimson Tide

Defending national champions once again, Alabama looks even better on paper heading into 2016 than it did before the 2015 season started. But like last year, Alabama must replace key cogs in the machine, most notably quarterback, along with the core of its defense. Attrition that was heavy even by Alabama standards could play a factor in the team’s season outlook.

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Five players who need a strong A-Day showing

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Five players who need a strong A-Day showing

With Alabama’s second scrimmage in the books, positions that are up for grabs this spring are slowly coming into focus.

Five players in particular need to post a solid A-Day performance Saturday in order to mark themselves as the starter heading into fall camp. As QB David Cornwell showed last spring, leading (or even being in the mix) at the end of spring isn’t a guarantee of holding onto a job throughout fall camp, but it certainly makes it tougher for other competitors to get a foothold.

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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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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 preview: Bama will find out whether Rebels are for real

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

The Rebels have now hung 70-plus points on each of its first two opponents, UT-Martin and Fresno State. It wasn’t a surprise in the opener; it was definitely a surprise last week against a Fresno team that is typically well-coached and scrappy. It leaves Alabama asking the question of just how good is Ole Miss, and whether Kelly was the missing piece to Hugh Freeze’s offense this whole time.

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MTSU Preview: Bama looks to improve on the little things

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MTSU Preview: Bama looks to improve on the little things

It’s hard convincing people that a mid-major program like Middle Tennessee State could be a threat to Alabama, especially at this point in the Crimson Tide’s development. MTSU is a recent addition to Conference USA after playing either at lower divisions or in the lowly Sun Belt up to now.

But MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill is a Bobby Bowden disciple, a good recruiter and former assistant at Clemson and South Carolina. His defensive coordinator, Tyrone Nix, has been around for years and also has SEC experience. Offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner is a young assistant to watch, whose experience at Valdosta State and Murray State exposed him to high-flying offenses.

On the other hand, it is not unusual for MTSU to not fill all of its allotted scholarship slots. The Blue Raiders are typically thinner than most teams and try to rely on the newest innovations in offense or defense to corner the element of surprise. Unfortunately, the raw talent level just isn’t there often enough for the Blue Raiders to seal the deal.

Alabama will be using this game to work on fixing the few small issues that cropped up against Wisconsin. Ole Miss comes to town next week, and the Crimson Tide needs to be firing on all cylinders for that one.

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