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Clemson preview: Quick start a must as Bama tries to tame emotional Tigers

Clemson preview: Quick start a must as Bama tries to tame emotional Tigers

The Alabama Crimson Tide is set to play for a national title for the fourth time in the last seven years.

Although that has little to do with the current matchup, such a feat demands to be paid attention. It has been 30 years almost since the Miami Hurricanes appeared ready to run off a similar streak of domination. Nebraska had a brief spike of similar play in the 1990s. But surely, all thought, the days of a handful of teams laying waste to the rest of the competition had come and gone.

Instead, Nick Saban returned to college football after a brief stint in the NFL, and everything old is new again – namely, an Alabama program that once dominated college football in the 1960s and 1970s is again making everyone else hate the program passionately – out of envy.

MSU wrap-up: Spartans sell out to stop Henry, forget about rest of UA’s team

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MSU wrap-up: Spartans sell out to stop Henry, forget about rest of UA’s team

Faced with the task of stopping Alabama’s balanced, efficient offense, Michigan State made the understandable call to sell out to stop Heisman Trophy-winning running back Derrick Henry and force Alabama to put the game in QB Jake Coker’s hands.

Three hours later, Michigan State coaches were asking for a mulligan.

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MSU preview: Bama, Spartans both looking to bury old demons

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MSU preview: Bama, Spartans both looking to bury old demons

For this year’s playoff opener, Alabama has drawn Michigan State, coached by former Nick Saban cohort Mark Dantonio. The last time Alabama saw Michigan State, the Crimson Tide put a shellacking on the Spartans, 49-7, in what was essentially a meaningless Citrus Bowl. The game came at the end of the 2010 season, arguably the most frustrating season in Alabama history, thanks to the Cam Newton-led Auburn Tigers winning that school’s second national championship over Oregon.

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Auburn preview: Tide tries to avoid trap at Jordan-Hare

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Auburn preview: Tide tries to avoid trap at Jordan-Hare

Alabama’s path to college football’s Final Four is clear. But even the clearest of paths can encounter an obstruction during a trip to Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.

For all the talk about throwing out record books, the better team usually wins this game. Notable exceptions have been in 2013 (Kick Six) and 1984 (Wrong Way Bo). That’s the thing about this rivalry: Games are named after their defining plays, and are replayed for decades to come as if they just happened last week.

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

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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.

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Tennessee wrap-up: Bama squeezes Big Orange hearts with late win

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Tennessee wrap-up: Bama squeezes Big Orange hearts with late win

A game like this was almost expected, the result of Alabama being faced, week after week, with a gauntlet of rested teams, thanks to the SEC office’s inability (or lack of desire) to address unfair scheduling practices.

And in this case, the Crimson Tide nearly paid the price for the circumstances outside its control.

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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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Texas A&M wrap-up: Bama’s defense lowers the boom on Aggies

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Texas A&M wrap-up: Bama’s defense lowers the boom on Aggies

If Alabama is going to make a run at a national championship, one of the things that must happen for the Crimson Tide has undeniably begun to happen the last two or three weeks: The defense is getting incrementally better every game.

Alabama traded the I-formation offenses of Georgia and Arkansas for Texas A&M’s high-flying spread attack Saturday, and held it to 16 points of production. The Aggie rushing attack – which wasn’t spectacular by any means coming in but was nonetheless respectable – was completely shut down. Alabama’s defensive line lived in the Aggie backfield, quarterbacks Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray were mercilessly harassed, and Alabama’s secondary put on a performance for the ages.

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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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