A few more scout-team jerseys of note. Anthony Orr and Bernel Jones both wore the No. 97 used by Ohio State unanimous All-American Joey Bosa.
Freshman Johnny Dwight had the No. 63 of Buckeye defensive lineman Michael Bennett and Jake Long wore the No. 43 of Ohio State's third-leading tackler Darron Lee.
Running back T.J. Yeldon appeared to be doing more than usual in Sunday's practice. After watching a few drills early in the 8-minute viewing window, he took a few reps catching passes coming out of the backfield. The leading rusher had a heavy wrap on his right calf. Yeldon later did a few drills running, planting and turning on a dime. He wasn't quite as quick as the others and wasn't cutting as hard. On Saturday, Nick Saban said the plan was to limit his work before the holiday to stop the cycle of re-injury after hurting his hamstring in September and spraining his ankle in November.
There were speakers set up indoors for the first time this week to simulate crowd noise.
In the opener, the running back ran for 67 yards on eight carries against Michigan. Then, disaster. A week later, Fowler went down in Game 2 against Western Kentucky. He called it a "crazy, freak accident play" when everything changed.
It left his ACL torn and spirit battered.
At that point the team jokester and fan favorite nicknamed "Nudie" wasn't sure what his future held. He wanted to quit football forever.
"I mean, I was pretty close," Fowler said this week.
But his son Jalston Jr. was on the way "so I had to stick it out," he said. And this then-girlfriend was a strong influence in his life.
"She had to just keep me going, keep me positive through the whole thing," Fowler said. "Family and friends too. Now that I look back on it, I'm happy that I didn't."
Life without the #FOWLERBOOMTRAIN? I don't want it.
"I think maybe the two best teams might have been playing in the SEC Championship Game in 2009," Saban said. "We played a phenomenal game. So it was a playoff game in a sense, and they won one [in 2008], and we won one."
The 2010 game was utter domination by the Tide and another thorn in Meyer’s side, but those first two matchups were special on the national landscape. Yes, the second one was a blowout, but the amount of talent on both sides was something special and something those two incredibly gifted coaches constructed.
"I have a hard time remembering our address or phone number, but I could tell you every play in those games," Meyer said. "It was classic -- 2008 was a classic game.
"But what was it, 2009 Alabama team, arguably the best team I can remember going against or getting ready to prepare, very well balanced, very well coached. ... When you face a team like any of these four teams, you're going to see all three phases. You have to be on point. When you get to this level of competition, whether it's a punt team, whether it's a punt block or obviously offense and defense, you'd better be on it."
There was a move Sunday, however, that broke the streak. Mark Hocke, a six-year assistant strength and conditioning coach at Alabama, accepted a job at Georgia. He'll now be the head strength coach after working under Scott Cochran at Alabama.
Apparently this image of Mark went viral weeks ago, but this is the first time I remember seeing it. Best of luck in Georgia, Sir Twinkletoes, we barely knew thee.
-1: Of the top 10 teams in the FBS in winning percentage, only three are negative in their turnover margin. One is Marshall, one is Florida State and the other is Alabama. That's what we like to call living on the edge. The last time Alabama finished the season on the wrong side of the turnover battle, Nick Saban wasn't the head coach. Ohio State, meanwhile, is plus-nine in turnovers and has created a whopping 118 points off of turnovers. It goes without saying that giving up free points isn't conducive to winning football games.
Oct. 11: Alabama escapes Arkansas with a one-point win Much to the chagrin of Nick Saban, the Tide’s 14-13 victory over Arkansas was perceived almost like a loss. On the heels of the result at Ole Miss, the narrow win over a Razorbacks team that hadn’t won a conference game in nearly two years seemed to confirm Alabama fans’ worst fears: The dynasty was over, Blake Sims was an unworthy successor to AJ McCarron and the Lane Kiffin experiment was a disaster.
A second defeat, one that would fully destroy the Tide’s playoff hopes, appeared likely if Arkansas could pose this much of a problem.
"It's kind of getting our identity back," safety Nick Perry said. "We felt we didn't play our best game last year, and now we have to have something to play for. Hopefully, we can win this game and then have another game we can play in. That's something we think about and know we have to go out and play our best game."
Landon Collins, another safety who grew up in New Orleans, said he hasn't even thought about the making amends for what happened last January.
Not so for cornerback Cyrus Jones, however.
"Definitely," he said. "The thought still lingers in everybody's heads from last year. It was our last game and we didn't go out the way we wanted to, so it's going to be big to come in and play well. I think it's definitely a little bit of extra motivation."
Who will win the Sugar Bowl semifinal?
Alabama: 90 percent
Ohio State: 10 percent
How the Power 5 coaches voted:
Alabama: 91 percent
Ohio State: 9 percent
How the Group of 5 coaches voted:
Alabama: 89 percent
Ohio State: 11 percent
Nick Saban Saturday press conference
Friday practice footage (offensive line, running backs, tight ends, wide receivers, defensive backs)
Saturday practice footage (running backs, offensive line, wide receivers, play action)