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The Jumbo Package: 11-01-10

Wake up to hate.

No. 6 Alabama turns focus toward final stretch |

How the bye week helped Alabama from a physical or mental standpoint won't be known until later today when players and Saban meet with the media for the first time since Wednesday. Alabama practiced Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week before taking the weekend off.

Tide tight end Preston Dial said last week he was encouraged with how his teammates were responding to the idle week.

"You can see it," Dial said Wednesday afternoon. "The team is definitely coming together and playing real well. Everybody is hurt and battling through nicks and knacks here and there, but everyone is still giving effort and still realize how important this week is."

"It's not whether we can do it or we can't do it, it's whether we can do it all the time to a standard, to a level that's going to be effective," Saban said.

Alabama offense on better pace than 2009 | | Shreveport Times

Alabama is particularly better in red zone offense. It has scored 21 touchdowns in 35 opportunities for 60 percent. Last season at this time, Alabama coach Nick Saban was getting aggravated at the number of questions about his red zone offense on his weekly radio show as it was 16 of 37 for 43 percent.

"Our focus has been to try to distinguish ourselves by playing to a little higher standard. I challenged everybody to do that," Saban said.

"We’ve put a lot of time into the red zone," said Alabama tailback Trent Richardson, who leads the team with 606 rushing yards on 86 carries and is tied with tailback Mark Ingram for the team lead with eight touchdowns. "We’re doing a better job at it. We have to keep it going."

Crimson Tide suddenly rolling into the picture - Pasadena Star-News

Yes, as expected Oregon, fresh off a victory at USC, moved to the top of the mountain, with previous No. 1 Auburn dropping to No. 2, followed by BCS busters Texas Christian, Boise State and Utah.

All are a combined 24-0 and, at least on paper, in perfect position to play for the national title if either the Ducks or Tigers stub their toes.

But it's a paper ranking, and most know it.

Because sitting behind them, lurking like a cat ready to leap at its prey, is once-beaten Alabama, which about a month ago was given up for dead after losing to South Carolina.

LSU football team faces tough stretch after bye week |

Coming out of a bye week, No. 12-ranked LSU finds itself again with a back-loaded final one-third of the season, starting with a home date against No. 5 Alabama on Saturday. That one is followed by a non-conference home game with Louisiana-Monroe, a home game with Ole Miss and a visit to Arkansas two days after Thanksgiving.

As well as the Tigers have played -- in most areas, anyway -- the potential is there for a repeat of last year. A season-long floundering offense finally caught up LSU in last week's 24-17 loss at Auburn and after eight games, the prospects for significant improvement aren't realistic.

Miles Still Taking Heat Despite 7-1 Record as Alabama Game Nears - The Daily Reveille

But despite the record and a No. 10 ranking, LSU coach Les Miles has still received a heavy dose of national criticism because of questionable play calling and poor game management issues.

It also doesn't help Miles is once again pitted against former LSU and current Alabama coach Nick Saban, who has had Miles' number since leaving the Miami Dolphins to join the Crimson Tide.

Saban is 2-1 against LSU as the Alabama coach, and LSU needed a late rally to beat Alabama in Saban's first game against the Tigers.

"It's huge for Miles because I don't think there's any doubt the fans have become impatient with him. ...  A win would go a long way to restoring the confidence the fan base has in him as well as the administration," said local ESPN radio host Matt Moscona. | LSU Sports | RABALAIS: What to make of this LSU team? — Baton Rouge, LA

It’s possible LSU could run the table, but it’s hard to expect. What isn’t hard to ask for is that the Tigers play smart, stop burning time outs after change of possession and having to run men onto the field to fill out a formation. Or drop passes or miss receivers.

and etc.

Alabama Crimson Tide are the biggest winners in BCS standings - ESPN

Top running back Crowell seeing crimson and red; decision due Dec. 10 |

Elite 2012 prospect ready to play for Crimson Tide |