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SECCG wrap-up: Bama plays to its strengths, takes advantage of Gator errors

SECCG wrap-up: Bama plays to its strengths, takes advantage of Gator errors

As gameplans go, the one Alabama used to defeat Florida for the 25th SEC championship in school history was stunningly simple: Alabama would use its defense to choke the life out of an anemic offense forced to work behind a thin, under-talented offensive line. Then the Crimson Tide would feed Florida a steady dose of Derrick Henry until the Gators wilted under the constant pressure.

Sometimes, gameplans don’t play out the way they’re put together on chalkboards. But this one did.

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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Previews 2015: Texas A&M Aggies

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Previews 2015: Texas A&M Aggies

How far the Aggies go in 2015 will be determined by how quickly new defensive coordinator John Chavis can right the ship. The Aggies have never lacked for offense since joining the SEC, but their built-for-the-Big-12 defense just can’t cut it. In addition to Chavis, head coach Kevin Sumlin finally seems to be getting serious about allocating assets to the defensive side of the ball. The Aggies might also find themselves better on offense simply by getting rid of Kenny Hill, who had become a distraction there. Texas A&M will put up a ton of points, but can the Aggies keep opposing offenses from doing the same?

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Previews 2015: Mississippi State Bulldogs

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Previews 2015: Mississippi State Bulldogs

Mississippi State overachieved greatly in 2014, in the process solidifying Dan Mullen’s hold on the head coaching position in Starkville – and, unfortunately, lifting future expectations. As often happens with Mississippi State, success does not appear to be sustainable. The Bulldogs simply haven’t recruited consistently enough to remain in the SEC’s upper echelon, and had its starting quarterback not elected to return to school, State would be staring a losing record in the face. As is, the Bulldogs will do well to get back to the postseason.

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Previews 2015: Ole Miss Rebels

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Previews 2015: Ole Miss Rebels

Relative to talent, there has probably not been a team fall short of expectations as spectacularly as Ole Miss has done it over the past couple of years. Ole Miss lost two of its last three games in 2014 by a combined score of 72-3, failing to achieve offensive balance or take advantage of several packed recruiting classes. The window isn’t closing yet for Ole Miss, but uncertainty in the offensive backfield makes the Rebels vulnerable. Most of the uncertainty, though, falls back to a coaching staff that is starting to take some heat for its choices.

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Previews 2015: Arkansas Razorbacks

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Previews 2015: Arkansas Razorbacks

Bret Bielema’s second-year success was as important for his future as it was Arkansas’. Bielema led Arkansas to a 6-6 record and then a dominating bowl win over old Southwest Conference rival Texas, giving some credence to the idea that old-school football might still have a place in the SEC. Arkansas will be boring, but probably effective. The offense is one of the most experienced in the SEC, but the defense, which overachieved in 2014, was gutted by the graduation cycle.

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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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LSU preview: Suddenly, Tigers are a major roadblock for Tide

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LSU preview: Suddenly, Tigers are a major roadblock for Tide

About a month ago, LSU was 4-2, coming off a 41-7 pasting at the hands of Auburn, and a lot of college football fans and pundits alike were writing the Bayou Bengals’ obituary.

But things change in an instant in this game. LSU’s alleged slide into mediocrity continued the following week with a 30-27 near-loss at Florida, a game many people believe the Gators would have won had Florida not suspended QB Treon Harris over off-the-field allegations that eventually proved false.

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Florida preview: Struggles with Kentucky belie Gators’ true talents

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Florida preview: Struggles with Kentucky belie Gators’ true talents

As the final few plays in Florida’s overtime win over Kentucky went by the boards, there were two schools of thought concerning the Gators. The first was that Will Muschamp needed to visit the nearest Laser Copy and start getting resumes ready; the second was that this Gators team, despite its struggles against Kentucky, still has enough talent to win any game on its schedule.

And, now that Florida refused to fold against Kentucky, you can add the adjective “resilient” to the mix.

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Previews 2014: Mississippi State Bulldogs

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Previews 2014: Mississippi State Bulldogs

The Bulldogs have been mentioned as potential darkhorse contenders seemingly every year since Dan Mullen took over the team five years ago – but this time, the hype might be for real. The Bulldogs have the SEC’s most dynamic young quarterback, a veteran roster and a stout defense. Those factors are usually a good combination for teams looking to break into the upper echelon of an SEC division.

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