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Jumbo Package: Tide Enter Bye Week a Unanimous Number One

So far, so good.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. The Tide get a well-deserved break this week after eight consecutive, dominant weeks that have them positioned as the unanimous #1 team and a favorite against the field to bring home another national title. Things are looking good, folks. Some recaps of Saturday’s win:

"Coach Daboll said we want to go fast because they're having trouble lining up to us," tight end Hale Hentges said. "So, you guys saw that wrinkle in there and it worked out for us."

This sped-up attack spanned both quarterbacks and helped finish off a stumbling Vol team for an 11th straight win in the historic rivalry.

Back in 2014, the talk was about instituting a rule that forced offenses to wait at least 10 seconds into the play clock before running the next play. Alabama would have violated that three times while approaching that invisible barrier several other times.

NCAA Football: Fresno State at Alabama
Brian’s offense was struggling until he discovered this One Weird Trick that let him score all the points and feel better than ever!
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Hurts’ 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Irv Smith Jr., was a direct result of the play action.

“The linebackers came down and Irv did his job running a good route and getting open and I gave him the ball and he scored,” Hurts said.

Hurts finished with his second-best passing performance of the season with 198 yards on 13 of 21 attempts. He only played in six drives in the game and the offense scored touchdowns on four of them.

It isn’t terribly surprising that Daboll would employ a no huddle offense since New England has featured it for years. That he was comfortable running it for an extended period in the game is encouraging in terms of the players’ comfort level with the scheme. Needless to say, you don’t usually try to execute something at a faster pace until you feel that you have gained some level of mastery.

As I’ve been hammering home since last season, the intermediate area in the middle of the field is the key to making this offense unstoppable. LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda created a “Jalen killer” blueprint last season, lining up in a wide nine technique and crashing the backfield with the linebackers, knowing that Hurts wouldn’t stand in there and deliver the ball in the space vacated. While there is still some frustrating reversion at times, Jalen seems to be trusting his pocket and his eyes a bit more now. If that continues to develop, this will be the first 15-win team.

Paying no mind to the tobacco-free campus rules, Alabama fans started lighting up cigars before the Crimson Tide finished the 45-7 beating of Tennessee on Saturday evening. Bo Scarbrough said he could smell it on the sideline.

It’s against campus rules and an impermissible benefit that Alabama self-reports every year. Dem cheatin’ Bammerz.

Perhaps, when Alabama returns to action in two weeks, all the outside distraction, or at least the worst of it, will have taken care of itself. There should be no more games (Mercer excepted) where Alabama is a 35-point favorite, no more weeks where the running joke is about whether the scoreboard will short circuit.

The remaining three SEC opponents — LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn — all spent Saturday crushing the same type of conference opposition Alabama has been crushing so far. An argument can be made that they are the three toughest opponents Alabama has faced, all stacked into one daunting November. If nothing else, one can expect Saban’s patience with questions like “how do you get your team motivated for…?” to come to an end.

Alabama has a top-10 scoring offense (No. 6) and scoring defense (No. 2) nationally. If this keeps up, it would be the first time it has happened during Saban’s tenure. Think about that: Alabama isn’t allowing teams to score, but they’re also scoring more points than all but five teams in the country. Who would have thought a Saban offense would be this explosive?

Alabama has a plus-200 point differential through its first five SEC games, which is the largest margin in league history. That’s more than the plus-190 from the 1996 Florida team and plus-165 from the 2012 Alabama team. Both of those teams won the SEC and national championships in their respective seasons.

Alabama leads the SEC in scoring offense, rushing offense, total offense, scoring defense, rushing defense and total defense. So, pretty much everything.

Alabama leads the nation in rushing defense and total defense.

Alabama’s offense isn’t too shabby either. The Crimson Tide are top-10 in the country in scoring (No. 6 with 43 points per game) and rushing (No. 8 with 298.8 yards per game). Alabama is just outside the top-10 at No. 12 in total offense (499.8 yards per game). Alabama is ninth in the country with an average of 7.01 yards per play.

Is that good? It seems pretty good.

As Cecil notes, there are teams on the November schedule that are talented enough to pull an upset should the Tide show up flat, which is why Saban constantly harps on complacency in practice. Maximum effort will be needed for the remainder of the conference slate.

No. 2 Penn State took it to Jim Harbaugh and his No. 19 Michigan Wolverines 42-13 on Saturday night.

However, Nittany Lions fans have their sights set on a loftier opponent: No. 1 Alabama.

Keep winning and you just might get them. Careful what you wish for.

Sunday was the one-year anniversary of the end of Eddie Jackson's college football career at Alabama. He suffered a broken leg returning a punt during the Crimson Tide's 33-14 victory over Texas A&M on Oct. 22, 2016.

Now a safety for the Chicago Bears, Jackson marked the anniversary by making history on Sunday in his seventh NFL game.

Eddie Jackson’s story was the coolest of the weekend. He provided the only touchdowns for his team on two long returns in a 17-3 win exactly one year after breaking his leg. Add in Amari Cooper’s monster performance on Thursday, and former Alabama players managed nine total touchdowns in week seven.

That’s about it for today. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.