Good morning. The Rammer Jammer is a daily rundown of everything you need to know about Alabama athletics, published every weekday morning.
Peach Bowl week came in like a lamb on Monday, with both teams arriving in Atlanta on Monday morning before game week meetings and practices at the Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta. The first trickle of stories emerged, ranging from long features in The New York Times and Washington Post to the briefest of blurbs on local websites.
That trickle will become a veritable flood over the week, beginning with Alabama’s defensive media day on Tuesday morning. An army of reporters and columnists has descended on Atlanta, with thousands on thousands of words to be written and hours upon hours of stand-ups to be broadcast.
That media firestorm casts light on one of Alabama’s key advantages in a game like this: experience. Unlike the 2014 Sugar Bowl/playoff matchup against Ohio State, Alabama enters this game with a senior class fully aware of the hubbub that will ensue. They’ve handled all of this before, including the scrutiny that goes with untimely transfer news or defensive backs being sent home after practice dustups.
Coach Nick Saban preached the importance of focus and mentality in his first press conference of playoff week — something he’s said his team lacked in its non-championship seasons, but has in spades this year, if O.J. Howard is to be believed. Saban’s ability to maintain a singular focus from top to bottom in his program is one of the the major contributors to his unprecedented run at Alabama — just ask Steve Spurrier and Phillip Fulmer.
Start Peach Bowl week with this must-read in-depth profile of Jonathan Allen by Rick Maese of the Washington Post.
- Matt Zenitz of AL.com has the fast facts about Washington to know ahead of the Peach Bowl.
- Sam Borden of the New York Times is one of the best sportswriters working today. Here he goes inside Alabama’s recruitment of the top long snapper in the nation. Again.
- Jon Solomon of CBS Sports has an interesting breakdown of the playoff teams’ financials. Though the numbers are slightly intricate, the bottom line (heh) is Alabama’s rich.
- Saban called the Washington secondary ‘Seahawks-like‘, by which I assume he means “good” and not “overrated and prone to getting away with pass interference on every play.”
- Alabama players spent their first night in Atlanta at a go-kart track.
- Saban said Marlon Humphrey and Cam Robinson have been healthy and mostly practicing.
- Bradley Bozeman is the latest in a long line of Alabama guards turned standout center.
- Washington coach Chris Petersen offered the usual platitudes in his Peach Bowl arrival press conference.
- Sporting News runs down the 10 most important players of the Peach Bowl matchup.
- Not explicitly Alabama related, but Sports Illustrated’s Michael Rosenberg makes the case against expanding the College Football Playoff. Alabama athletic director Bill Battle has made statements opposing expansion of the playoff beyond its current format.
- And finally, Rainer Sabin and Lauren Sisler of AL.com run down the key storylines heading into Peach Bowl/playoff week.
Saban in full
Saban’s full 16-minute press conference touches on Washington’s defense, his team’s mentality, and most interestingly, his use of gigantic defensive ends in goal-line packages.
Built by Bama
— SB Nation NFL (@SBNationNFL) December 27, 2016
- A’Shawn Robinson had 4 tackles as his Lions lost to the Cowboys, 42-21. He also body slammed Ezekiel Elliott, above.
- JaMychal Green posted 9 points and 2 rebounds on 3-of-6 shooting in 30 minutes of play as the Grizzlies lost to the Orlando Magic on Monday night.
- Bleacher Report has a slide show of the best NFL prospects in the playoff.
What to watch: Bowl season
Army and a 5-7 North Texas get us started at noon ET in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl, which is the second-best chicken restaurant sponsored bowl game. Army is favored by 10.5 points and the over/under is set at 48.5, so this should be a low-scoring, probably one-sided affair. The best thing this game has going for it is that it’s the bowl game played in the actual Cotton Bowl at the Texas State Fairgrounds. It’s a beauty of an old stadium, underutilized thanks to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The second game of the day suffers from two major problems. The Northrop Grumman Military Bowl at 3:30 p.m. features no service academies, but is played in Annapolis, Md., home of the Naval Academy, which makes it the first annual installation of the abhorrent trend of bowl games played in cold-weather areas. I know Maryland isn’t exactly Maine, but the average high is 41 degrees, which is cold. Bowl games are supposed to be a reward for a good season. A surprisingly good No. 24 Temple squad matched up against a dire Wake Forest team in Maryland is not that.
I think the third game of the day will be worth watching, when Washington State takes on Minnesota in the National Funding Holiday Bowl. Both teams are 8-4, and Washington State boasts a 4,200-yard quarterback in Luke Falk. And if you’re in the San Diego area, you can get tickets for $9! Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Our nightcap is the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl, appropriately, at 10:15 p.m. Boise State (10-2) takes on Baylor (6-6) in Phoenix, but at the baseball stadium, not the football stadium, which is a trend that’s maybe worse than the cold-weather thing, which makes the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankees Stadium humanity’s worst creation. Anyway, there’s probably a lot of points to be had in this game, judging by each school’s offensive speed and lackadaisical defense.
All the games are on ESPN.