The first CFP Projections are trickling out. As you’d expect, the Crimson Tide have their work cut out for them based on the alleged criteria used by the Committee. But, I will tell you straight-up, any formula that rewards Michigan and Georgia’s godawful schedule, while shorting the Seminoles, is straight trash.
However, under the older BCS formula, the Tide come in at 9th on the initial rankings, with a chance to do some further damage down the stretch against two more Top 15 teams — the first of which arrives this weekend.
I knew I liked the BCS better anyway.
And, Pat Forde knows that Alabama’s biggest impediment is — as has been the case the last several years — Alabama itself. The Tide are positioned for the playoffs as a one-loss as well as anyone...if they can keep winning and get out of their own way.
Alabama (14). Record: 5–1. AP ranking: 11th. The loss: at home to Texas. Best win: taking care of Mississippi, 24–10, in Tuscaloosa. Do the Crimson Tide control their own destiny: absolutely, difficult though it may be. At 4–0, Alabama is the last unbeaten in league play in the SEC West. The path is challenging, with Tennessee, LSU and Kentucky the next three opponents, and after that comes the Iron Bowl and a potential SEC championship game against No. 1 Georgia. But this is an improving team with a stellar defense. This is not the opponent the Bulldogs want to see in Atlanta come early December.
Staples and the folks at VolQuest made a point that I made in yesterday’s Matchups piece, and in the Point Spread Pick: This game is going to be a whole lot closer to Texas A&M/Ole Miss, than last year’s track meet. Both teams have outstanding defenses, and it really is a matter of who can land the most haymakers: the Vols with their dynamic rushing attack, Alabama with chunk plays through the air.
For the Tide, containing Milton’s legs, while preventing his own YOLO counter-punches, will be critical if ‘Bama is going to get the W.
“Last year, it was about who had the ball last,” Brent Hubbs of On3’s VolQuest said via Tuesday’s episode of Andy Staples On3. “That was the whole point of that game. This game has a little bit of an old-school for the older fan base that really appreciates the Third Saturday in October.”
The final score from Neyland Stadium last season — 52-49 for a total of 101 points. It’s the most points scored in an Alabama-Tennessee game ever, with 2003’s 5OT thrilled being the only one to come close (51-43 in favor of the Vols).
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“Kicking the ball on 4th and 1 at midfield might be the right decision,” Hubbs said. “Whereas a year ago, 4th and 3 at midfield, you were going for it. It’s going to be a very different type of game for coaches to manage on Saturday.”
Like last season, expect plenty of anxiety this weekend — albeit from a different direction. It’s not who has the ball last; it may be a matter of who can score first. For my sanity, I hope that is Alabama.
To quote The Girl from yesterday, “I can’t live in a world where the fucking Vols have anything resembling a streak against us.”
She’s smart, y’all. #GumpSoHard
Despite being a “down” year, the Crimson Tide are still a ratings bonanza. Of the Top 25 most-viewed games this year, Alabama has four on the list — alongside Notre Dame. Only the novelty in Boulder has had more viewers.
The top 25:
1. Colorado-Oregon — 10.03 million (ABC)
2. Ohio State-Notre Dame — 9.98 million (NBC)
3. Colorado State-Colorado — 9.3 million (ESPN)
4. LSU-Florida State — 9.17 million (ABC)
5. Texas-Alabama — 8.76 million (ESPN)
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And that, dear reader, is why a one-loss Alabama team will get tons of playoff consideration. We blew up the sport for ESPN, thus ESPN (implicitly) owes it to the country to give them what they want.
Crimson Tide Basketball is ranked No. 24 in the preseason, and was selected 5th overall in the SEC Preseason Poll — with Grant Nelson snagging an All-SEC First-Team selection, and Mark Sears picking up a Second-Team nod.
Honestly, as loaded as the top half of the SEC is, combined with new coaching and talent at MSU and Ole Miss — alongside strong transfer classes at ‘Bama and Arkansas — a 5th place finish in the SEC may be good enough for a 4- or 5-seed come march.
I suspect, however, that the press has given the Tide short shrift. The Vols have to be the favorites, and Kentucky will be Kentucky. But objectively who do you see, for a fact, that you can pencil in as undoubtedly better than the Tide?
I wouldn’t bet against Nate Oats.
The Volunteers are the overall preseason favorite for the first time since the 2021 season and the fifth time overall.
Texas A&M’s Wade Taylor IV was picked by the voters as SEC Player of the Year. Alabama’s Grant Nelson, Arkansas’s Trevon Brazile, Auburn’s Johni Broome, Mississippi State’s Tolu Smith and Tennessee’s Santiago Vescovi also received votes in the Player of the Year voting.
More info here too:
Trezman Marshall had his first taste of the press yesterday, and used his time to declare his love for Nick Saban and the tradition of Alabama football.
He’s fighting through some banged up ribs, but should be available on Saturday. I suspect we will need a thumper too. The Vawls are gonna’ run until we get tired of watching them.
I love Tyler Booker, who seems to be the only consistent leader on the offensive line. His remarks yesterday about (and to) his fellow linemates are instructive:
Booker pointed out that the offensive line has had troubles besides the play of Proctor and Pritchett. And he’s right, the unit that spoke so much about dominating teams during the offseason has struggled once the games began.
Still, the problems there can’t be ignored. On Monday, Saban was asked if he’d considered moving Latham to the left side, and Booker fielded a question Tuesday on whether he had discussed kicking out to tackle with the coaches.
“None. That’s just not really a concern of ours,” Booker said. “Our concern is just doing what the coaches tell us to do, being able to execute wherever they put us. So if I am called upon to do that, I’ll be ready for it, but I haven’t had any talks with the coaches about that. So my concern is just doing my job and just helping those guys at tackle improve.”
Nick Saban previews the Vols, and especially emphasizes last year’s bugaboos: explosive plays:
“They certainly make you defend 53 yards wide of the field,” Saban said. “There’s two challenges. It affects run support in the box because the guys that are covering the receivers are so far away from the box. And they run a lot of vertical routes from out there so the people covering them get pretty isolated because they’re far away from, whether it’s split safety or middle-of-the-field safety. So it is very challenging. The thing that I think is going to be really important is not to give up big, explosive plays, which was a real issue for us a year ago.”
I’m of two minds on this one.
A far more gambling defensive scheme almost certainly means the Vols will get some shots on Saturday. That’s just attendant with a Steele defense. Bu the influx of talent in Tuscaloosa, coupled with key losses in Knoxville, greatly runs the risk of turning it over to the Tide several times too. Milton is a great athlete, but he’s very limited under center. If ever there were a reason Alabama brought in half a dozen new DBs, it’s this game.
And, as the ‘Bama players pointed out yesterday, there is a world of bad taste in everyone’s mouth from last year. That was not Alabama football that took the field in Neyland Stadium...
“From last year’s game, I remember a lot of missed assignments,” UA offensive guard Tyler Booker said. “I remember a lot of crucial penalties, not playing Alabama football. So what I’m gonna reiterate to the team and talk to the team about this week is just making sure that we play consistent Alabama football. Make sure that we execute when we need to and not take our foot off the gas.”
Once again, I love Tyler Booker.
That’s it for now, folks. We’ll see you later.
Have a great day, and hate Tennessee.
What postseason championship is preferable?
Pre-BCS Bowl Alliance (1993-1997)
Pre-Bowl Alliance full-on chaos, rife with split titles, etc (Pre 1992)
Narrow BCS, with less emphasis on computer polls
Expanded BCS, with greater emphasis on computer polls
Expanded CFP (6+6 model, begins in 2025)
Other/ I have a suggestion below