Good morning. The Rammer Jammer is a daily rundown of everything you need to know about Alabama athletics, published every weekday morning.
Well, we made it. As hard as it is for some of us to get excited about a pre-decided game, the fact remains that a little more than a day separates us from gameday, and it’s certainly better than the early bye week alternative. While most of you, I would assume, will be enjoying the early kickoff (noon ET on SEC Network) from the confines of your living room, or perhaps an early-rising sports bar, some of you will undoubtedly be making the journey to Tuscaloosa for the game.
Whether you’re an RV parking lot regular or a fan making their annual pilgrimage to the state’s Cathedral of Football, welcome. As your humble guide on this journey and a resident of Tuscaloosa, I’ve taken it upon myself to issue recommendations, in the hope that your vision of Tuscaloosa won’t be limited to the Quad, the stadium, and the endless traffic. Which brings us to our first….
Taste of Tuscaloosa
While early kickoffs are more often the purview of our neighbors to the east (#BreakfastWithBarn), I can’t object to the odd early morning kickoff. It’s like a morning run — get your work out of the way, get a good start to the day, and turn our attention to more pressing issues, like which coach of which Tigers is getting fired after their team loses in Auburn on Saturday evening.
Every good morning workout needs its fuel, so appropriately, my first recommendation is a now-iconic breakfast spot. While Tuscaloosa’s breakfast fare is underrated, most of the highlights — City Café, T-Town Cafe, Another Broken Egg (a franchise, but a relatively rare one) — are closed on Saturday. Fortunately, we’re left with an option for a Southern breakfast that received a vote of confidence from Paul “Bear” Bryant himself.
The Waysider‘s breakfast probably isn’t a secret to many. Bryant was a regular, and most who have been to Tuscaloosa more than once have found themselves dining in the worn house at 1512 Greensboro Ave. But it’s breakfast is so heartening, its locale so warm that I feel driven to ensure that you, dear reader, don’t miss it. The cook has been making the biscuits from scratch for 65 years, with no recipe, only instinct. The prices are far from exorbitant, and the wait well worth it.
But you will wait. If you don’t plan to get up with the sun on Saturday morning, perhaps leave The Waysider until some leisurely Sunday morning. The dining area seats between 60 and 70, but the wait can frequently top an hour.
The media picks…
Alabama. Everyone’s picking Alabama.
- Bleacher Report’s Brian Pederson picks every single game, apparently.
- ESPN’s SEC panel predicts every conference game.
- Four out of seven on the CBSSports panel have Kent State covering (+43.5). The disrespect is palpable.
- Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports’ Stewart Mandel didn’t bother picking this game, choosing instead to focus on games with closer to single-digit spreads. ‘Bama gets no respect, I tell ya.
- And finally…
AL.com’s Lauren Sisler and Kevin Scarbinsky predict an Alabama romp with a bonus at the end.
If I had to pick this game, I think I’d take Kent State to cover. They have a respectable defense, and Saban doesn’t usually run up the score on FCS opponents, except to the extent that anything less than perfect football turns him into a crazy person. Mostly 43.5 is just a massive spread.
- Roll Bama Roll has an extensive breakdown of Kent State’s defense and…
- This frame-by-frame examination of quarterback Jalen Hurts’ running ability.
- SEC Country’s Marq Burnett has his five keys to the game and…
- Highlights from Nick Saban’s weekly radio show, including a metaphor about African wildlife.
- Freshman year is tough for many people. For an Alabama football player, it can be even tougher, from Terrin Waack for The Tuscaloosa News.
- Alabama-Ole Miss sent a 62-year-old man to the ER with heart palpitations, that man told Paul Finebaum. To my relief, that man is not my father.
- Alabama Media Group’s Michael Casagrande on how Alabama adapts to early kickoffs.
- His colleague Ranier Sabin has a breakdown of Alabama’s wide receiver usage.
- And Scarbinsky thinks Alabama might, maybe, lose a game?
- Alabama’s front seven could be Saban’s best ever, according to Pro Football Focus.
- Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher has some insight on what makes Saban great.
- Finally, ESPN’s Alex Scarbrough on Nick Saban, snubbed by Kent State.
Around the Capstone
- As The Crimson White’s Matt Speakman writes, Alabama soccer fell 2-1 in overtime to No. 15 Arkansas in a physical affair. On another day, the match easily could have gone Alabama’s way.
- The women’s tennis team starts its season at the Rice Invitational in Houston today (Cody Estemera, The Crimson White).
- The men’s tennis team, meanwhile, will host the Crimson Tide Four-in-the-fall.
- Alabama volleyball will host No. 19 Texas A&M and No. 6 Florida this weekend.
- 50 days until basketball season!
— Alabama M Basketball (@AlabamaMBB) September 23, 2016
- Former Alabama and NBA journeyman guard Mo Williams will retire after this season.
- Former Alabama golfer Justin Thomas carded a 2-under 68 at the PGA Tour Championship on Thursday. He enters the second round in a tie for seventh.
- And as for Alabama’s two Patriots…
New Eng 27, Hou 0.
Cyrus Jones – 2 tackles; 1 KO return, 24 yds; 2 punt returns, 23 yds; 1 fumble (recovered)
Kareem Jackson – 7 tackles
— Alabama Pro Updates (@BamaProUpdates) September 23, 2016
Walk-on punter ethers starting quarterback
As one does.
Jaden Smith or Jalen Hurts ? pic.twitter.com/p20RgAA6h0
— P. Knight (@prestonknight4) September 22, 2016
Nick Saban is a good person
— Mike Bernier (@_Itsbernier_) September 21, 2016
Maybe my least favorite lazy media narrative is Nick Saban as mechanical-anti-human. From his Kent State statements to his heart-warming gesture for one of his players (another walk-on punter whose mother is battling cancer), hopefully this week will put that to rest.
What to watch this weekend
AND finally, our final segment for the day. I thought about what you should watch this weekend so you don’t have to!
Wyoming at Eastern Michigan starts us off at 7:30 p.m. ET on CBSSN. Watch it if you have literally nothing else to do. SMU hosts TCU at 8 on ESPN in what could very well be a bloodbath. The only game really worth paying attention to tonight is USC at No. 24 Utah, when the Trojans could have their early season demise finalized (9 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1).
- Noon – Obviously you’ll be watching Alabama, but it’s all right if you spend a little more time watching Ole Miss host Georgia on ESPN. Really, nobody will judge. You want to know if Ole Miss is good or not, and that’s OK. We all do. Also, No. 8 Michigan State hosts No. 11 Wisconsin in a game that theoretically has playoff implications that are also dependent on Michigan and Ohio State because the Big 10 is unbearable (Sorry, Landof10).
- 3:30 p.m. ET – Man, there’s not a lot going on tomorrow. No. 14 Tennessee hosts No. 19 Florida on CBS in a huge SEC East game that will probably feature a lot of inept football. Neither team has really found its footing this season, with Tennessee especially floundering its way to a 3-0 record. One undefeated team falls today, and it’s probably going to be the one that manages to play the most hilariously bad. But you’re probably not interested in an inept-looking Tennessee or Florida team, are you? Surely, not you.
- 6 ET – LSU at No. 18 Auburn on ESPN. In wrestling terms, this is a Loser Leaves Town match. Gus Malzahn’s seat is scorching hot at this point, with nary a quarterback to be found on the Plains. Meanwhile, Les Miles’ Great Escape might be over if his Tigers can’t pull a win over an unimpressive Auburn team, even on the road.
- 7:30 ET – South Carolina at Kentucky on the SEC Network if you really want to get in some advance scouting during halftime.
- 8 ET – No. 7 Stanford at UCLA on ABC – Is Christian McCaffrey real? Can Josh “Chosen” Rosen pass his first real test as savior of the Bruins? Watch at least a quarter, make up your mind and then probably change to…
- 9 ET – No. 17 Arkansas at No. 19 Texas A&M on ESPN in a battle of undefeated SEC West teams, both of which Alabama still has to take on. The Crimson Tide will have to travel to Arkansas and hosts Texas A&m in October. One of these teams will prove to be Alabama’s biggest stumbling block in pursuit of another conference championship.
- 10:30 ET – No. 9 Washington at Arizona on Pac-12 Network. Or you could just go to sleep.
Should be a fun one. Stay hydrated, try not to offend your loved ones, and don’t be afraid to nap. See y’all out there.