Good morning. The Rammer Jammer is a daily rundown of everything you need to know about Alabama athletics, published every weekday morning.
In Tuscaloosa, it doesn’t feel like fall has started. The daily temperatures are only slightly less foreboding than the heart of July, and despite the occasional threat, autumn hasn’t broken through. Here, that’s not unusual. For all intents and purposes, fall begins in November here, when the leaves turn, the temperature drops and excepting the occasional early cold snap, the football starts to really matter.
LSU has pulled out all the stops ahead of the game on Saturday. On Thursday, Leonard Fournette led a players-only meeting, after which you could “hear a pin drop,” according to coach Ed Orgeron. Twenty-five former Tigers returned to Baton Rouge to speak to the team. It appears that, perhaps irrationally, LSU is full of self-belief, and an almost maniacal sense of determination.
Alabama, for its part, has approached this week quietly focused. Nothing dramatic has been done, little has been said. The Crimson Tide believe they will do Saturday what they have always done: their job. That is almost always enough.
LSU will be the toughest opponent Alabama has faced this season, one desperate to prove itself. For the first and perhaps last time this season, Alabama is favored by single digits. Just as it always has, Alabama’s path to the national championship runs through LSU and on Friday, fall begins.
The media predicts Alabama at LSU
The line is Alabama-7.5.
- At CBS, everyone but Tom Fornelli picks Alabama to cover.
- The USAToday panel is unanimous for Alabama straight-up.
- The Times Picayune has Alabama winning by 14.
- The ESPN crew has Alabama by a range of scores.
- Bleacher Report’s expert crew went 6 for 6 in favor of Alabama.
- Bruce Feldman of Fox likes Alabama to win but LSU to cover.
- Sports Illustrated is split, 4-3, with the Crimson Tide having the edge.
- SEC Country’s duo picks Alabama to cover.
- And from the AL.com crew:
- Friday’s must-read, from my former professor, Bleacher Report’s Lars Anderson: An oral history of The Game of the Century.
- OK, Friday gets two must-reads: This profile of Burton Burns from The Tuscaloosa News’ Aaron Suttles is incredibly well-written, and even better reported.
- Traveling offense, the new-look secondary and the rest of Marq Burnett’s five keys to the game.
- Leonard Fournette is out for revenge on Alabama, from The Advocate’s Ross Dellenger.
- Speaking of Fournette, CBS’ Jon Solomon goes deep on the matchup.
- And from ESPN’s Ed Aschoff, this game could mean Heisman redemption for Fournette.
- And Kevin Scarbinsky points out that running backs don’t really beat Alabama.
- LSU will be an old-school test for Alabama’s new-look defense, from AL.com’s Michael Casagrande.
- Roll Bama Roll breaks down the exceptionally talented LSU defense and the increasingly diverse LSU offense, at length.
- Leonard Fournette is only one half of a great duo, AL.com’s Matt Zenitz writes.
- If LSU plays insanely well in every aspect of the game, it might have a chance, SBNation’s Bill Connolly writes.
- When Saban leads his team into Death Valley, he does so against a monster of his own making.
- Alabama tight end O.J. Howard was named a finalist for the Senior CLASS award.
- And finally, yours truly took a look back at some of the biggest recent games in this series.
Built By Bama
Absolutely ridiculous, @Juliojones_11.
— NFL (@NFL) November 4, 2016
- Julio Jones continued his inhuman pace, posting 8 catches for 111 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay.
- Wallace Gilberry is headed back to Cincinnati.
On a tragic note, examination revealed the true extent of Kevin Turner’s CTE on Thursday. Turner had the most advanced form of CTE before passing away from complications stemming from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in March.
Around the Capstone
- Men’s basketball opened its season with a 91-71 win in an exhibition against Faulkner State Community College on Thursday night.
- Volleyball fell in four sets to Texas A&M. The team will host Arkansas on Sunday.
- Women’s tennis duo Erin Routliffe and Andie Daniell made the quarterfinals of the national indoor championships.
- Meanwhile, the rest of the team is headed to Tallahassee for a three-day tournament.
- The men’s tennis team will host the SEC Coaches Classic this weekend.
- Women’s basketball will host its own exhibition game against West Alabama on Friday night.
- Both swimming teams head to Auburn for a weighty in-conference matchup.
What to watch this weekend
This weekend requires some self-discipline, because the good games —Alabama included–don’t start until 8 p.m. Pace yourself, let’s make it through these days together.
- Your options are CMU at Miami of Ohio on CBSSN at 6 p.m., Temple at UConn on ESPN2 at 7 p.m., and San Jose State at Boise State on ESPN2 at 10:15 p.m. Don’t watch any of these games. Watch basketball or go to a nice jazz club or something. Just anything but these games.
- 11:30 a.m. ET — Our day starts with Navy vs Notre Dame, which is in Jacksonville, Fla., for some reason? I dunno. It’s on CBS? Nothing about this makes sense. Turn this one on while you make mimosas.
- Noon — Texas at Texas Tech leads this slate on FS1, a pale shadow of the 2008 game, but worthwhile nonetheless. In the SEC, Texas A&M travels to Mississippi State on the SECNetwork while Auburn hosts Vanderbilt on ESPN. If those aren’t interesting, there’s always Air Force at Army on CBSSN.
- 3:30 p.m. — The most important game here for Alabama fans is Florida at Arkansas on CBS. By winning that game, Florida can move so much closer to clinching the SEC East for the second year in a row. Elsewhere, Clemson hosts Syracuse on an undecided ABC property, and Arizona heads to Washington State at 4 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks.
- 7 p.m. — This is mostly the appetizer slate, but there are some games worth sampling. Florida State heads to N.C. State on ESPNU after both teams nearly knocked off Clemson this season. At 7:30 p.m., Kentucky hosts Georgia in a game that has a strange amount of importance after Tennessee’s loss to South Carolina.
- 8 p.m. — Alabama kicks of against LSU in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. on CBS. If you have the wherewithal or an extra screen, No. 6 Ohio State hosts No. 10 Nebraska on ABC.
- 10:30 p.m. — Your nightcap has some excellent #Pac12AfterDark potential, with controversial Washington heading to play possible giant killer Cal on ESPN.
— Crimson Tide FB (@CrimsonTide_FB) November 3, 2016