Good morning. The Rammer Jammer is a daily rundown of everything you need to know about Alabama athletics, published every weekday morning.
With the open week winding to a close and only four games remaining in the season, now’s a good time to take a look ahead to November and Alabama’s possible (likely? probable?) path to the SEC Championship.
When Les Miles was losing his job on the last play at Auburn on Sept. 24, it looked like the last third of Alabama’s season would be more an extended series of scrimmages than actual football games. Since then, LSU’s defense has dominated every opponent it has faced, and looks to be one of the best in the nation, while Auburn has done things like hang 56 on Arkansas despite having a Duke point guard playing quarterback. Let’s take each game one by one.
Alabama starts the run-in at LSU in a night game as part of a CBS triple-header. Most people are pegging this game as Alabama’s biggest threat, but I’m not sure I buy it. With all respect to quarterback Danny Etling and the revamped LSU offense, this is still a run-first team going up against the top run defense in the nation. LSU’s best hope is to get to the edge, but the Tigers haven’t shown a great ability or predisposition to do that, and Alabama’s linebackers are mobile enough to shut down all but the most misleading offenses. LSU’s pass defense could create problems for Alabama, but the Tigers’ best hope is to force turnovers, and they haven’t shown themselves to be particularly ball-hawking. If Jalen Hurts can cut down on the fumbles, Alabama should have the upper hand.
The Crimson Tide then returns home to take on Mississippi State. According to Wikipedia, this is a football rivalry. Hmm. Anyway, Mississippi State is absolutely terrible this season, particularly in the passing game on both sides of the ball. Alabama’s winning this one by three touchdowns.
We’re skipping UT-Chattanooga.
Which brings us to The Iron Bowl on Nov. 26. As it looks to me right now, this is Alabama’s biggest threat. I’m not so much worried about the fabled toss-up nature of rivalry games or the throw-the-stats-out-the-window philosophy. Auburn does a good job of getting its offense into space, misdirecting athletic defensive fronts and creating mismatches. There’s every chance that Alabama dominates this game, but it’s not unlikely that Auburn breaks just enough plays to keep it close.
- The AL.com crew selects the Alabama MVPs to this point.
- Ed Orgeron claims his father prevented coach Paul “Bear” Bryant from visiting him during his college recruitment.
- Kevin Scarbinsky admonishes trash-talking LSU safety Dwayne Thomas, using AN AWFULLY FAMILIAR METAPHOR, KEVIN.
- Rainer Sabin examines the correlation between Alabama’s efficient defense and health.
- Today’s practice report, including a new face at safety in Eddie Jackson’s old spot.
- BamaOnline’s Travis Reier analyzes Thursday’s practice.
- SEC Country’s Alex Martin Smith takes a numerical look at whether this is Saban’s best team at Alabama. Unsurprisingly, Jalen Hurts features prominently.
- Roll Bama Roll has a film breakdown of the Texas A&M game.
When you’re a future NFL linebacker and also T-Pain
Bye week/fall break vibes pic.twitter.com/GSWEgd8eVG
— Clay Keith (@ClayboJones12) October 27, 2016
Linebacker Ryan Anderson or foremost expert on AutoTune T-Pain? Who can say?
Around the Capstone
- Soccer closed its season with a 2-0 win over Vanderbilt in the final home game of senior captain and “team mom” Caroline Alexander’s career.
- The soccer team will make its return to the SEC tournament on Monday, taking on a Texas A&M team it beat by one goal at home in overtime.
— SEC (@SEC) October 28, 2016
- Five-star point guard Colin Sexton will announce his commitment on Nov. 10, the same day as Alabama Mr. Basketball John Petty.
- Gymnastics held its fall intrasquad ‘Ghosts and Goblins’ meet on Thursday. The Ghosts won.
- The men’s swimming team debuted at No. 5 in the initial national rankings, while the women came in at No. 25. Just five years ago, the Alabama teams were the bottom of the conference. Coach Dennis Pursley has led a remarkable turnaround at his alma mater.
- To go with the national ranking, Pursley landed a commitment from a breaststroke specialist.
- Volleyball will host Tennessee and No. 22 Kentucky this weekend. Friday’s match against the Volunteers will be televised on the SECNetwork.
- Men’s basketball released its promotional schedule, featuring a reunion for the 1986-87 SEC champion team.
What to watch
Sit back, relax, and let everyone else cry anxiety tears as their team’s hopes hang in the balance.
- It’s Armed Forces night! No. 22 Navy travels to USF as a road dog at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2, while Air Force goes to Fresno State at 10:30. The first game should be worth a watch as 5-1 Navy fights to stay nationally relevant.
- Noon, ET — No. 10 West Virginia at Oklahoma State starts us off on Fox. West Virginia is still undefeated! I mean, the Mountaineers probably lose this week, but still. West Virginia, 6-0! You should also keep an eye on No. 2 Michigan at Michigan State on ESPN, although the Spartans’ complete inability to defend means that Harbaugh will probably put 85 on them. No. 5 Louisville takes on Virginia on some ABC property. In conference, Mizzou takes on Kentucky on the SECNetwork in our Please Do Not Watch This Game of the Week.
- 3:30 p.m. — The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party — No. 14 Florida vs UGA in Jacksonville, Fla., for the uninitiated — will be the CBS game. Florida should win this game, the Saban Coaching Tree Bowl, handily, considering UGA lost to Vanderbilt, but stranger things have happened than the Gators choking in this game. In a game with national title implications No. 4 Washington travels to No. 17 Utah on FS1. Washington has to win that game if it wants to be in playoff consideration. No. 8 Baylor goes to Texas on ABC, where the Longhorns will look to derail the undefeated Bears.
- 7 p.m. — No.7 Nebraska at No. 11 Wisconsin headlines the early evening set on ESPN. In the SEC West, No. 15 Auburn will test its defensive resolve against Ole Miss at 7:15 on the SEC Network.
- 8 p.m. — No. 2 Clemson at No. 12 Florida State on ABC. I expect Clemson to handle Florida State, but the Seminoles aren’t pushovers, and Louisville is there waiting for Clemson to slip.
- 11 p.m. — Stanford at Arizona I guess? It’ll be on FS1, if you can’t sleep. If you watch this for long, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Built by Bama
— NFL@SneakerReporter (@NFL_SR) October 28, 2016
- Derrick Henry scored his first career touchdown on a 6-yard run as part of a 60-yard, 16-carry effort as the Titans beat the Jaguars, 36-22. Henry also had 37 yards on 4 receptions.
- T.J. Yeldon finished with 20 yards on 3 carries and 36 yards on 4 catches in the same game.
- Ryan Kelly has made an impression on the Colts as a rarity in the NFL: a day one rookie starting center.
- Marcell Dareus is back in action this Sunday for the Bills.