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Jumbo Package: Little drama expected in tonight's first playoff rankings

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Playoff seedings are released tonight at 6 Central, and advanced stats see Alabama and Michigan a cut above the field.

Award season is nice to these two gents.
Award season is nice to these two gents.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Playoffs

Michigan is fantastic, but Michigan State showed the Wolverines aren’t perfect - SBNation.com

It’s funny to be looking at potential Michigan Playoff matchups before the CFP rankings are even released. But the Wolverines are maybe the one team as attractive as Alabama on paper. They aren’t likely to slip before Thanksgiving, and they’re now projected to beat faltering Ohio State as well. If you’re looking for potential vulnerabilities in the weeks ahead, though, here are the biggest potential advantages their forthcoming opponents have

Good discussion of what many believe to be the CFB Playoff finale, Alabama vs. Michigan. There is little drama expected tonight at least as far as the first four are concerned. The greater tussle looks to be between (probably) Texas A&M and Louisville for the 5th spot in the event a team above them slips up.

Award season

Look at the hardware up for grabs for Alabama players:

Alabama Football’s Anderson, Foster, Scott Selected to Award Lists - ROLLTIDE.COM - University of Alabama Official Athletics Site

Alabama senior linebackers Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster, along with junior punter JK Scott, were nominated for awards at their respective positions on Monday. Anderson and Foster were chosen as semifinalists for the Butkus Award, which honors the nation's top collegiate linebacker, while Scott was selected as a candidate for the Ray Guy Award, which is presented annually to college football's top punter.

Alabama Football Players Recognized on Pair of Semifinalist Award Lists - ROLLTIDE.COM - University of Alabama Official Athletics Site

Alabama football players were recognized on a pair of awards lists, the Maxwell Football Club announced on Monday afternoon. Jonathan Allen and Jalen Hurts were tabbed as semifinalists for the Maxwell Award, while Allen and fellow senior Reuben Foster were chosen as semifinalists for the Bednarik Award.

VH3: getting toasted by Amari Cooper since 2012

Watch: Amari Cooper burns Vernon Hargreaves with leaping catch

There's just something about being matched up with Vernon Hargreaves that seems to trigger unrivaled aggression from former Alabama All-American Amari Cooper. Cooper went toe-to-toe with the former Florida star during Sunday's game in Tampa and roasted one of the NFL's top young corners to the tune of 12 receptions for 173 yards and a touchdown.

VH3 has never fared well against Amari Cooper: And, even though both are now millionaires, that still has not changed.

LSU lookahead

Versus adjusted SOS Alabama, LSU and Louisville are the only teams in the Top 10 in offense and defense. Good sortable database here, especially Alabama's offense which will surprise you in yard-per-play efficiency versus its schedule.

College Football Analytics - 2016 Yards vs SOS

Below are the adjusted yards per rush, pass, and play for every FBS offense and defense. The data is limited to FBS opponents only, in games that have already been played. This metric evaluates the expected yards per attempt for each play type based on the opponent but then incorporates the actual performances by each team to produce the adjusted numbers for strength of competition in each area. The values in the table below depict how each team would be expected to perform against an average opponent in each category.

Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban turns 65, Matt Rhule turns around Temple Owls

With the exception of Holtz, the modern-era coaches who rank among the winningest ever all had great years after they turned 65, something you couldn't say about previous generations. Between that and Saban's energetic appearance, it seems safe to say he isn't retiring anytime soon.

A comparison of Saban's career trajectory to other legends like Bear, Woody, Bo, etc. He's on pace to obliterate most accolades for head coaches.

An LSU Tigers slow start would be disaster vs. Alabama Crimson Tide - SEC Blog- ESPN

it has been a common thread in both the Tigers’ five-game losing streak against the Tide -- LSU trailed at halftime in all five games -- and for the 2016 LSU team that will take the field on Saturday. The No. 15 Tigers (5-2, 3-1) have trailed at some point in the first half of five of their seven games thus far, and they have either trailed or been tied at the half in four of them. Even during their current three-game winning streak under interim coach Ed Orgeron, the Tigers’ sloppy play has left them tied at halftime in each of the last two games, against Southern Miss and Ole Miss.

Alabama's issue hasn't been starting slow; it's been letting up. It will be interesting to see what kind of hole, if any, LSU digs itself into against a defense that makes it tremendously hard to come back and win against.

Alabama practice report: Updates on Alphonse Taylor, Minkah Fitzpatrick | AL.com

Right guard Alphonse Taylor was spotted going through drills. The status of Taylor, who has not played since suffering a concussion Oct. 8 against Arkansas, remains uncertain. "We're kind of allowing him to do what he can, and we'll sort of take it day to day," Alabama coach Nick Saban said earlier Monday. "I can't really answer that fully. We've been off for three days and we're going to see how he does today."

It's looking less and less like Shank is going to be available Saturday. His concussion is now nearly a month old, and he's still day-to-day. More than football, that seems like scary, life-impacting brain trauma. Get better, Shank

Alabama players react to 'domination' prediction from LSU safety | AL.com

"I mean, yeah. I mean, you still got to play the game and we'll see come Saturday, I guess," Alabama left guard Ross Pierschbacher said. "We really don't pay too much attention to that. We still got to practice and get better and get ready to go. They preach to us not to talk smack. We'll just let them do that, I guess."

The air of dismissal about LSU's smack-talking is hilarious. The general air around the locker room is "we'll settle this on the field." I love the focus.

How Alabama's filling multiple jobs vacated with Eddie Jackson injury | AL.com

Then there's the punt return role. Jackson scored two touchdowns on special teams, so replacing him as a returner is a massive job, too. "Xavian Marks has been back there, returned one for a touchdown in a game," Saban said. "Trevon Diggs has been back there. So we'll continue to evaluate which one of those guys. I think the most important thing in a game like this is, who is going to do the best job, especially because they're a spread punting team with a left-footed punter, they do bulldog, rugby punt sometime."

As expected, Minkah is firmly entrenched at the FS position. Interestingly though, at his star position, Fitzpatrick had been helping to call the defense with Eddie. So, the X and O drop off may not be as steep as we expected.

Vololol

Jalen Hurd's departure latest blow for fading Tennessee Volunteers - SEC Blog- ESPN

Here the Vols are, straining their necks even more to look up at Florida -- a demon they finally exorcised after 11 long years -- in the SEC East standings while teetering on what folks are appropriately calling "Rocky Flop." Now, star running back Jalen Hurd, who had 2,638 career rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, has decided to transfer, leaving Tennessee with just one proven, healthy back, John Kelly, heading into Saturday's game with Tennessee Tech.

Despite rumors yesterday, Jonathan Kongbo is not leaving the Vols. however, the guy on pace to become Tennessee's all-time leading rusher is. He wants to transfer (probably to the West Coast) and learn the TE or WR position. Probably best for Hurd who, despite the yards, has become a less effective running back as the season wore on, and he was already eclipsed by the injured Kamara, and now by Fr. RB Jonathan Kelly.

Getting better:

Alabama soccer eliminated after first round of SEC tournament - The Crimson White

Alabama soccer fell in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament to Texas A&M, 1-0, in double overtime on Monday. With the loss, the Crimson Tide is eliminated from the tournament and finishes the 2016 season with a 9-8-2 record overall.

Earlier this season, we told you that Alabama soccer finally had a dynamic scorer, was playing at a faster pace, and funny enough, the record reflected it. After last season's 5-12-1 campaign, the Tide rebounded with a new brand of Commie Kickball and went 9-8-2 this year, making the SEC Tournament. Well done on the turnaround, ladies.