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Jumbo Package: Let the Home Stretch Begin

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After coasting through its first eight games, the Tide will face three ranked opponents in the next four weeks.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. The first installment of the only ranking that really matters comes out tomorrow, but for now the Tide remain on top in a wild and wacky season:

In its final day of relevancy before the College Football Playoff rankings are revealed Tuesday, the Amway Coaches Poll was released Sunday. And despite having a bye week, Alabama was again atop the coaches’ rankings as the unanimous No. 1 team.

Alabama received 65-of-65 first-place votes in the Coaches Poll as the unanimous No. 1 team in the country. Three of Alabama's upcoming opponents was ranked among the top-25 teams, while five teams from the Southeastern Conference were ranked.

While the rest of the country talks about the SEC being “down,” the rankings show that the conference boasts the top two teams in the country and is tied with the Pac 12 for the most ranked teams. Incidentally, Alabama has yet to play any of the other ranked teams. That changes this week.

Since the “Game of the Century” in 2011, Alabama has defeated LSU six games in a row. Two of those six wins have been shutouts, including Alabama’s 10-0 win over the Tigers in 2016. LSU and Alabama played into the fourth quarter of that game tied 0-0 before Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts broke the game open with a rushing touchdown, the only one either team scored all afternoon.

Hurts returns for Alabama this year, completing 62.5 percent of his passes for 9 touchdowns and 1 interception. He’s also run 84 times for 576 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Over the last two years, LSU has run the ball 53 times against Alabama for 87 yards. That works out to 1.64 yards per attempt.

Statistically, Alabama ranks ahead of LSU in just about every measure. Passing offense is the exception by a half a yard with the Tigers 84th nationally and the Tide 85th.

These are again two teams built on defense. Alabama is No. 1 in scoring defense, total defense and scoring defense while the Tigers are top-30 in each.

The “giggling and laughing” — one player’s description — coming from this young LSU team stopped, as veterans took charge during an “intense” players-only meeting. Leaders emerged, too, from a slew of “come to Jesus” get-togethers, as another player describes. Specifically, defensive players began to do their “homework,” another player said, analyzing film of the next opponent and such.

The source for all of this, of course, was that home loss to Troy on Sept. 30.

“It woke us up,” defensive end Rashard Lawrence said.

Said Christian LaCouture: “We’ve been rolling ever since.”

LSU has certainly improved since the Troy debacle, but the lack of national coverage around this game is telling. None of the remaining opponents should be able to hang with Alabama, but all are good enough to spring an upset should the Tide come out flat and/or make uncharacteristic mistakes. There can be no lapses going forward.

Nine weeks into the college football season, we are in strange territory. The number of true statistical standouts is tiny, and the sport’s middle class is enormous. We are basically an LSU (or Mississippi State!) upset of Alabama away from complete and utter chaos.

Bring it on.

I usually love Bill Connelly’s work, but I don’t think we can be friends anymore.

FiveThirtyEight gives Alabama a 33-percent chance of winning out, as shown within the stats website’s latest projections. Penn State (67 percent), Ohio State (46 percent) and Notre Dame (35 percent) all have better chances of winning out.

Alabama’s strength of schedule is about to get a big boost, but the tough stretch that presumably culminates against Georgia in Atlanta is tamping down the odds of winning out. Insert your FiveThirtyEight election jokes here.

As you know, Florida and Coach Mac have parted ways. Thus far we have heard two likely names: Memphis’ Mike Norvell, and UCF’s Scott Frost:

Frost, 42, projects as having an elite ceiling. He has taken UCF from winless the year before his arrival to a bowl in his first season (6-7) and has them on a trajectory (7-0) to go undefeated this year. UCF leads the nation in scoring offense (51.0 ppg) by nearly five points per game. (Fittingly, Meyer’s Ohio State team is No. 2 with 46.3 points per game).

Don’t expect sentimentality to get in the way of Frost’s decision on his next job, as he’s a Nebraska graduate but is expected to take the job where he has the best chance to compete for a national title. That job is clearly Florida, which will be the best job in the market this year unless something truly stunning happens.

Many still believe that Frost will go home to rescue his alma mater after Mike Riley is inevitably canned after the season. He will probably be the hottest name on the market.

Lastly, SEC Shorts put out another solid effort.

Seems like they missed a golden opportunity with LSU, but the UGA and Bama fans are perfect.

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

Roll Tide.