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Jumbo Package: T-minus 36 Hours Edition

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Football is back, and the Tide is on tap...

Only one more...
Only one more...
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Last night marked the beginning of the real football season and, while much of the action was rather uninspiring, the start to the season was something to celebrate. We'll start with the only somewhat notable SEC game on yesterday's menu then get on to Alabama preparing to whip some Badgers:

South Carolina Gamecocks vs. North Carolina Tar Heels recap & final score: Gamecocks win 17-13 - Garnet And Black Attack

In his first career start with the Gamecocks, quarterback Connor Mitch could have had a better outing. The redshirt sophomore was just 9 for 22 passing for 122 yards and a touchdown, but added 10 carries for 41 yards.

Yeah, and Chernobyl could have had a better engineer. These two teams conspired to set quarterback play back by forty years. The game-clinching play says it all.

In his defense, that guy was wide open.

A couple of game previews:

Alabama-Wisconsin Preview Capsule

These are two of the five programs to average at least 10 wins over the last six seasons. Alabama is tops with 72 wins and the Badgers have won 60 games during that span. ... Wisconsin has gone 3-2 in its last five games against top 5 teams, the last win coming over No. 1 Ohio State in 2010. ...Alabama is 11-4 in neutral site games under Saban. The Badgers had won 16 consecutive openers before losing to Alabama's SEC West rival LSU last season. ... The only previous matchup between these teams was a 15-0 Wisconsin home win in 1928. ... The Tide's 67-week streak ranked in the AP top 10 is the longest active streak and seventh-longest overall.

I don't know about you, but I'm sick of hearing about that 1928 game. I'd say it's about time for some revenge.

Wisconsin football: Alabama Q&A with Roll 'Bama Roll - Bucky's 5th Quarter

Given Wisconsin's rebuild on the offensive line, the loss of a special guy like Melvin Gordon, the partisan Alabama crowd, the mismatch in physicality on both sides of the ball, and an unsteady Stave who took an unnecessary step back last season, I just don't see a very competitive final score. Admittedly, this score will not be reflective of how hard the first quarter or so is up front, but Alabama is just too deep, too talented, too experienced and will grind down the Badgers after settling in -- no matter who plays quarterback. 38-6.

SB Nation's Wisconsin Badgers site interviewed our own Erik Evans about the game. As usual, he is wrong about most everything here, but it's worth a read anyway. When it comes to his score prediction, Wisconsin fans are The Dude, the web page is the house, and Erik is the Chinese guy who waltzes in and pees on the rug.

Miscellany:

Nick Saban says he's 'happier than ever' at Alabama after reports of being 'miserable' | AL.com

"We are happier than ever that we are here from a family standpoint especially," Saban said on his weekly radio show "Hey Coach." "Our children both live in Birmingham, our grandbaby is in Birmingham, we have a business in Birmingham. We have more friends in Alabama than we've ever had at any place we've ever lived."

This is music to an Alabama fan's ears. Those who believe that Saban is "miserable" at Alabama simply don't understand the man and what makes him tick. Alabama has absolutely nothing to do with his demeanor. He can't be completely happy because perfection is unattainable, and perfection is what he lives for. Nick Saban will never be satisfied, and this is why he's a champion.

2015 College Football Predictions: Our Playoff, Champion, and Heisman Picks, Plus More That We’re Bound to Regret "

Here's a little gambling tip from someone who once spent a few hours at Mohegan Sun five years ago: When the house suddenly becomes undervalued, you don't bet against it.

A summary of Grantland's staff picks. A couple of them actually pick Alabama to win the national title. The quote says it all - let's hope this insanely talented group comes in with a chip on their shoulder, ready to prove the doubters wrong.

Alabama WR, Wisconsin DB — products of the same area — to finally face-off for first time | AL.com

Foster had six catches for 125 yards during the Tide's spring game in April, which Caputo told AL.com he watched. Caputo also watched Alabama's spring game in 2013 to see how Foster fared. "I've always followed him, just to check on how things are going at Alabama," Caputo said. "I was glad that he chose to go to that great program, and I'm glad he's doing the things he's doing. I watched the spring game, and I saw how well he's doing. I'm excited to go up against him — finally."

Neat story about former high school rivals in Wisconsin S Michael Caputo and Alabama WR Robert Foster. The two of them will undoubtedly cross paths tomorrow.

Alabama-Wisconsin game having trouble selling tickets | College Football Insider Blog

Only around 40,000 tickets have been sold as of yesterday and not many Badgers’ fans are buying them, according to NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt. AT&T Stadium (home of the Dallas Cowboys) seats 80,000 fans, which means that as of right now the stadium will be half full.

Somewhat surprising that Wisconsin isn't traveling better. This suggests that their fan base isn't terribly confident in their team's ability to be competitive.

How you can watch college football for MORE THAN 40 HOURS this weekend alone - SBNation.com

By my count, we can watch at bare minimum, 39 hours and 45 minutes in Week 1, starting Thursday, ending Monday and with multiple games on every day in between. That is based on games lasting three hours, a conservative estimate, since plenty of these late games will surely exceed three hours.

I love football, but forty hours of it in a weekend? Has to be at least some risk of overdose at that point.

'Man-child' freshman Daron Payne could start against Wisconsin | AL.com

"He's been a man-child," said Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland. "He came in and stepped up He's been working hard, and Coach Bo (Davis) has been on him because he knows he has to come in and play. So Coach Bo has been on him, Coach Saban has been on him, Coach Smart been on him, and he's been a man-child and doing what he has to do from day one since he got here."

Payne is one of the guys I'm most excited about this season. Alabama has recruited at a crazy level for several years now but  Payne, along with Calvin Ridley, Damien Harris, Blake Barnett, and Minkah Fitzpatrick, gives the 2015 class an absurd amount of top-end star power.

You didn't think we could skip the QBs, did you?

Nick Saban says Alabama QB battle down to 2 | AL.com

"Look, we have two guys that have really done a nice job in the last couple weeks that we have confidence in, that I believe in that can win the game and do a really good job with the quarterback position," Saban said. He didn't identify either quarterback.

Saban has now admitted twice that he's down to two QB contenders, though he won't say who they are. I'm sticking with earlier reports and calling Jake Coker as the starter with Cooper Bateman coming in on some special sets. Meanwhile, Alec Morris is there if something goes awry.

That's it, folks. We made it. Only one more day until the first Saturday of college football season. Expect the Alabama team to come out particularly hungry in this one, hoping to wash the taste of the last game from their mouths. Can't wait.

Roll Tide.