The layoff also provided some time to heal for several Alabama players who finished the season playing with minor injuries. Of those, running back Eddie Lacy and safety Mark Barron may benefit most from the time off. Barron missed much of the Auburn game with an injury to his ribs, sustained the previous week against Georgia Southern. "He has a similar injury to what Javy (Arenas) had," Saban said after the Auburn game. "It's a cartilage rib deal. It's not a serious injury but it's very painful, especially when you are moving around. Hopefully in a couple of weeks that will help him."
"I think in terms of injuries, a few weeks off always helps a team after a 12-game season," Saban said recently. "I guess the management of 40-some days between games is a bit bigger of an issue to be concerned about how you prepare your team for a sort of a one-game season and how you prepare your team to come back and play after that long a layoff and get them to play quality football."
"In between the 30 and the 30, we moved the ball pretty well," Alabama senior center William Vlachos said two days after the game, "but that's not going to win games for you."
No. 2 Alabama runs the ball better than No. 1 LSU and does a better job of stopping the run, but the Bengal Tigers have one major edge over the Crimson Tide, and it’s an important one. If you’re picking LSU to win this one and are trying to come up with a reason other than some stupid defensive back with some stupid nickname stolen from an Internet video, then hang your hat on this — special teams.
Watts said the switch is big for several reasons. "The most obvious is the fact he is a tremendous talent at running back, and both Alabama and Auburn were searching for a guy of that caliber in this class," Watts said. "For Alabama they were looking to add that big-time talented guy who could come in early and contribute. It's almost a guarantee that Trent Richardson will go pro, and they will still have Eddie Lacey but they like to platoon their backs and pound the ball. Yeldon will have a shot to do that next year as a true freshman."
If you’re an Alabama fan whose life seems better today because some anointed high school running back chose your school with the added benefit of shrinking your rival, get a grip. Same for any Auburn fans who found the nearest ledge inviting. And fill in your admonition to the sad soul who tweeted the following: "Would never wish this on anyone but TJ Yeldon, I hope you tear every ligament in your knee."
Let's take a look at some of the teams that are vying for the top tier of the SEC but have not quite established their bona fides so far:
Alabama reprised its narrow defeat to the Georgetown Hoyas with a loss to a decent but hardly top 25 Dayton Flyers on the road, and a semi-road game to rising but still unranked Kansas St. Wildcats. The Tide have two more opportunities versus the Oklahoma St. Cowboys and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to right the ship before stepping into conference play, but 'Bama needs to make that happen.
Wake me when it’s January 9. Preferably right around 8:30 p.m. ET. Because that’s the next time I’m going to give a rip about college football. Agreed? Good. Because by the time LSU and Alabama square off in the BCS National Championship Game — or should we call it the "national championship" game, since one-loss Oklahoma State ought to have as much of a shot at LSU as one-loss Alabama? — we will have slept through no less than 34 other bowl games.
The snarky comments about "too many bowls" disregard what these bowls mean for a Utah State or a Louisiana, which played in its first-ever bowl Saturday night. The Ragin’ Cajuns (9-4), picked last in the Sun Belt, beat San Diego State with a 50-yard field goal with one second to play to win the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, 32-30. If you saw the reaction of the Louisiana players after Brett Baer’s field goal, you understand.
Frazier has played as a freshman, though mostly limited to plays as the Wildcat quarterback. But he says he has taken half the snaps with the real offense during the first week of bowl practice. He also says the offense wants to send Malzahn out on a good note. "We know Coach Malzahn's offense is a high-octane offense, and we haven't really produced like we should have this year," Frazier said. "We want him to go out with a bang and our offense to get a stepping stone so next year we'll be heading in the right direction."