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Jumbo Package: Friday, 9 October 2015

Your daily dose of Crimson Tide news and other notes.

O.J. is ready.
O.J. is ready.
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Homecoming Eve, everyone. An ornery bunch from Arkansas will roll into BDS tomorrow with a lot of size and something to prove. The Tide is coming off probably the most impressive win anyone has tallied thus far, so this week's emphasis will be on achieving that elusive consistent focus that is difficult for anyone, particularly college-aged folks, and particularly college-aged folks who are once again getting all sorts of love from the national media. Alabama is favored by more than two scores in this one, and rightfully so. Here's hoping they take care of business.

"We love you again, Bama. Roll Tide!"

Inside College Football: Sorry Nick, we were wrong; Alabama leads SEC -

If you don't believe the Tide wind up atop the West, then you have to believe …. Ole Miss isn't going to lose again, thus not losing the tiebreaker against Alabama. Texas A&M and LSU are going to run the table. They're the two undefeated teams left in the West. Alabama goes to College Station on Oct. 17 and gets LSU at home on Nov. 7. From what I've seen, I'm not convinced anyone in the SEC goes undefeated. Meanwhile, the Tide seem to be finding themselves. Actually, that's an understatement after their performance in Athens.

Bowl projections: Alabama, Clemson jump into playoff spots | USA TODAY Sports Wire

Alabama moves back into the picture after its rout of the Bulldogs. Clemson also joins following its win against Notre Dame, one of the Tigers’ biggest hurdles to an unbeaten season.

SEC football: Week 6 preview, predictions

It’s hard to see (impossible to see?) the Tide losing at home to Arkansas. The Hogs do pose a threat, though; there is a formidable offensive line and a big-time tailback in junior Alex Collins, a Florida native. But Alabama has a big-time tailback of its own in junior Derrick Henry — a Florida native who is coming off career-highs in carries (26) and yards (148) — and the Tide also boasts a much better defense than Arkansas. Still, this could be interesting into the fourth quarter if Collins has a good game; he is riding a streak of three consecutive 150-yard outings.

After upheaval among top 10 teams, the case why No. 8 Alabama is really No. 1

The playoff system has given teams like Alabama a little more leeway. Losing to Ole Miss hurt, especially because of how many breaks went against the Tide in that game. But there will almost always be one-loss teams in the playoff. And given how lopsided scores can get against Alabama, their preseason ranking, and their strength of schedule, the Tide were always going to be on top of the one-loss pile.

Given how this year is playing out, Alabama might make it even with a second loss. In years where anyone can beat anyone, we tend to gravitate towards the safest brands. And there's nothing safer right now than the Crimson Tide.

Nobody philanders like college football writers. They're in bed with you one week, then somebody else the next.

Ridleys: Believe it or not

Nick Saban compares WR Calvin Ridley to Alabama great

Saban said he knew Ridley was a great player before he enrolled.

"We had him in camp a year ago," Saban said. "Kind of like Amari Cooper."

He added that Ridley (22 catches for 245 yards and two touchdowns) has been a big help after star receiver Robert Foster went down against Ole Miss.

Wow, a Coop comparison from the head man? Talk about high praise...

New team in the mix for WR Cavin Ridley

"I have a top three and it just will be my top three that get official visits," Ridley said. "It will be Tennessee, Alabama and Auburn. It will be after the college season is over, so I can talk to coaches and see how things are at the campus. Just to get a better feel of everything before I go."

No, that isn't an old link with a typo. Cavin Ridley with no "l" is the younger brother of the aforementioned Calvin. Cavin has Bama in his top three...

...along with Auburn and Tennessee.

Cavin, son, we need to have a talk. There are good decisions, there are bad decisions, there are disastrous decisions, and there is willfully choosing to spend years of your life in Auburn or Knoxville. Help him out, big bro.

Game stuff:

Rewinding Nick Saban's thoughts on Calvin Ridley, fan support and Arkansas |

--Saban finishes his show by saying people think he doesn't like the media, but he says that's not the case. He says he appreciates quality journalism.

--Saban says team has to win at line of scrimmage to win against the Razorbacks.

--Saban wraps up his radio show asking fans to recreate support and enthusiasm that fans showed last week in Georgia win. Says it really helps maintain focus and intensity and will be needed this Saturday against Arkansas. Said fans kept team in the game against Ole Miss.

Why couldn't someone have asked Nick to describe "quality journalism?" That would have been fun. Saban is clearly pleading to the home crowd to have an impact on the game Saturday night. The crowd was rather insouciant in both cupcake games, which certainly didn't help with the slow starts.

Alabama football: Arkansas run game provides tough test for Tide - The Anniston Star: Sports

While Arkansas’ rushing attack gets a ton of attention, senior quarterback Brandon Allen has done his part to keep the Hogs balanced so far. Saturday marks Allen’s 27th straight start for the Razorbacks. Allen’s 1,371 passing yards is No. 2 in the SEC and ranks among the top 20 nationally. He’s gone over 300 yards in back-to-back games, making him just the third player in school history to do so. "He’s athletic. He’s made lots of starts," Tide safety Geno Matias-Smith said. "He’s smart with the ball. He can scramble. We have to be on top of our man when he’s scrambling around. We have to stay with our man, and play the ball when he chucks it up."

That's a good point, Geno: that whole thing about playing the ball when the QB chucks it up, particularly from the free safety spot. That's a really good point. Let's put that into action, mkay?

ARKANSAS AT NO. 8 ALABAMA: Hogs' balance the right elixir

Arkansas is ranked No. 32 nationally in rushing (204 yards per game) and passing (272 yards per game). With 476 yards per game, Arkansas ranks No. 3 in the SEC in total offense and No. 25 in the nation. "Their offense is difficult to defend," Alabama Coach Nick Saban said. "A good combination of run and play-action passes and a good drop-back game, and they've done a really good job with the players that they have."

Nice write-up from the local Arkansas paper. As Saban intimated earlier in the season, the most difficult type of offense to defend is a balanced offense. The Hogs have been successful in both running and throwing the ball.The LBs in particular must do an excellent job in reading their keys lest the talented Hunter Henry have a field day catching passes.

Reasons to Hate: Alabama - Arkansas Fight

3) Did I really make it this far? It's Bama.  Of course we hate them.  Roll Tide, but you've got an elephant.  Forrest Gump is the greatest Alabama running back of all time.  Houndstooth looks like CRAAAAPPP!

4) They think they know us. Bama has been talking about how similar we are to the Georgia team that they just beat 38-10.  They know the size of our offensive line, and they see how willing we are to run the ball. The Bama front 7 runs two deep and rotates 9 different guys on the defensive line.  They seem to be excited about going against the Arkansas offensive line.  They seem excited about dealing with Ragnow, Skipper, Tretola, Kirkland, and Smothers. That just seems strange. Maybe they won't be so excited after a manhandling on Saturday.

A nice bit of trolling from Arkansas Fight. Go over there if you like, but please mind your manners.

More Bama Bits:

Alabama freshman D-lineman making 'quite an impression' |

Seeing his biggest workload of his freshman season, the 6-foot-2, 315-pound Payne helped Alabama limit Georgia to just 216 yards and three points aside from a late touchdown run after the Tide were already up 38-3. The five-star Birmingham native replaced senior Darren Lake as the Tide's primary nose tackle while also seeing time at defensive tackle — lined up between the center and the guard.

Daron Payne definitely looks like the next great Alabama lineman, but check out the embedded video. Tackle on the play goes to Georgia LT #71 John Theus, who was shoved into the RB by the right hand of A'Shawn Robinson as he minded LG #77 Isaiah Wynn with his left.

Unbelievable strength.

Why Alabama TE O.J. Howard is playing better than you think |

In fact, the non-receiving work has been his best this year for Alabama. It's a big reason he is the second-best tight end in the country, according to Pro Football Focus' grading system. He has a +9.1 run block grade that is exceptional for a tight end that isn't on the field solely to block. Pro Football Focus called him the best "dual-threat tight end in the nation."

Yeah, Alabama has a tight end too. O.J. has greatly improved in all areas of his game this season. It will be an upset if we get to see him in Tuscaloosa for a senior season at this point.

How Bear Bryant inspired Nick Saban's pregame speech at Georgia |

A player from the 1975 Alabama football team recently showed him a letter received by Bear Bryant inviting him to participate in the preseason camp. "What I'm about to ask you to do, ordinary people couldn't do," Saban said the letter read. "You wouldn't be successful if you were ordinary and do what we're going to do and try to win a championship. He said, but 'we have extraordinary people.' And that's kinda how our players reacted." The "ordinary people" quote wasn't uncommonly attributed to Bryant.

Great story.

Study: Nick Saban remains college football's highest paid coach, but not by much |

Saban's total pay is $7.09 million in the 2014-15 year, followed closely by Michigan's new coach, according to the USA Today database. Jim Harbaugh is set to pull in $7 million without bonuses. The base pay is actually higher than Saban's $6.9 million, but the Alabama coaches' $425,000 in bonuses vaulted him back to the top spot.

Harbaugh has a good thing going in Ann Arbor right now. It will be interesting to see if he is able to get Michigan back to the top. He certainly has the pedigree.

That's it for today, folks. Those traveling to the game, do so safely. May the Tide emerge victorious and injury-free tomorrow night..

Roll Tide.