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Jumbo Package: Alabama asks Drew Lock to homecoming

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Louisville at Alabama Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. The Tide have a homecoming date with Missouri tomorrow. Your previews:

Proving they’ve improved won’t come easy against an Alabama team that’s stomped all its competition. While the 2012 and 2014 Alabama teams Missouri played were known for their star-filled punishing defenses, Saban’s latest edition might be the best offensive team the Tigers have faced since joining the SEC six years ago.

It averages 56 points per game and has scored at least 50 in five of its six contests. No team has averaged 50 points per game for a full season since Baylor and Florida State did so in 2013.

There’s no realistic way to break this game down that provides hope for an upset. But even if we throw out how dominant Alabama has been this year, there has to be precedent for upsetting a top-ranked Alabama team at home, right?

No, not really.

Under Nick Saban, Alabama has been ranked No. 1 ahead of a home game against a Power-5 opponent 21 times.

In those games, Alabama is 20-1.

Average score? Alabama 36, Opponent 10.

A massive slump has plagued the top-ranked Crimson Tide over the last three weeks: They haven’t covered the spread. There, now that there’s some negativity out of the way (you’re welcome, Nick Saban), let’s get down to what this game is really all about. The QB matchup between Tide star Tua Tagovalia and Mizzou star Drew Lock will draw plenty of eyeballs. Tagovailoa has 25 incompletions and 18 touchdowns on the year, while Lock is second in the SEC with 297.4 passing yards per game. While that might draw attention, the real intrigue here is Alabama’s multi-dimensional rushing attack squaring off against a Missouri run defense that is giving up just 3.31 rushing yards per attempt. The Tigers haven’t seen anything like the Tide, though. Tagovailoa will stay hot, the rushing attack will pull away late and the Tide get cover for the first time since Sept. 15. Pick: Alabama (-28.5)

The Tigers will be without their big-play receiving target Emanuel Hall this week, but one big advantage they will have is a pair of daunting tight ends in Albert Okwuegbunam (27 catches, 194 yards, 2 TDs) and Kendall Blanton (11, 96, 1), who could play a big part in the Mizzou offense this week. Especially after seeing Arkansas tight end Cheyanne O’Grady catch seven passes for 48 yards and two TDs to lead the Hogs in receptions last week. So don’t be surprised if the Black & Gold goes to their two NFL-ready tight ends to help move the ball against the Tide.

But in the end, this is still the same Alabama team with a rock-ribbed defense and, for once, an offense that can take any defense out to the woodshed any week. The Tide could get their first real challenge in the first half this Saturday, but they’ll still put this thing away before the fourth quarter.

Prediction: Alabama 56, Missouri 24

“A couple of those plays last week, I think three of them, are where the guy blocked, blocked, blocked, and we kind of released them in coverage, whoever had them, and then a lineman gets in between you and the tight end and they throw them a little screen,” coach Nick Saban said. “We hadn’t seen that play prior to last week’s game. It didn’t kill us in the game, but it is certainly something we need to defend better in the future. It is a difficult play and you have to be disciplined in coverage.”

The SEC record holder for single-season touchdown passes isn’t Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow, Cam Newton or any of those other big-name former SEC quarterbacks.

It’s the QB Alabama will face on Saturday.

Missouri’s Drew Lock is a big-time player and will provide a significant test to the Trevon Diggs-less Crimson Tide secondary.

Lock is indeed one of the best in the country, and he will likely put up some points, particularly using those tight ends as Arkansas did last week. The problem, of course, is that Alabama has perhaps the most prolific passing attack in the country and the Tigers have been downright atrocious against the pass. The over/under on this one sits at 74, and that seems like a gimme since Saban won’t be comfortable taking the foot off the gas until it’s totally out of hand with Lock on the other sideline, and there will be some garbage time where Missouri scores a few. Let’s call it 59-27.

Of course, that’s just my opinion. Give us your score in the comments.

Oh, and if you’re struggling to conjure up some hate this week, hit this guy up.

Worst state, eh? At least we ain’t home to the murder capital of America, Hoss.

Check out this stat:

“When you factor in he has more explosive completions, meaning 20 yard-plus completions, than incompletions on the season, that is astounding.”

In addition, Tagovailoa is averaged 30 yards an attempt in the win against Arkansas last week, something Neuheisel called “mind-boggling.”

That is incredible, folks.

Cecil weighed in on Dixieland Delight.

Whether the campaign for cleaner lyrics will prevail, I don’t know. Temptation will have to be resisted. Perhaps it will prove too strong. Perhaps there will be a mighty effort to make it last through the season, until Auburn arrives. I don’t know who will police the lyrics and make the call if, in the immortal words of Eric Stratton (an “Animal House” reference seemed appropriate here) “a few bad apples have to spoil a good time for everyone by breaking the rules.”

Are people really that tempted to drop f-bombs?

Saban is still talking about rat poison, and he must have had a recent screening of the original National Lampoon’s Vacation.

“But people seem to look at our team like a convertible, aight, like a really nice convertible going down the road. Nice shiny, shiny wheels, really nice looking girl driving, aight. Everybody sees that. They don’t see the oil leaking, and they don’t see the bald tires. All they see is the girl and the car and the convertible, aight. So, we’ve all got problems. Every team’s got them. I mean, everybody’s got to sort of understand that you’re always having issues on your team and you’re trying to overcome obstacles. And our team is no different than that.

Nick may hate hearing it, but the only thing that has really kept Alabama from being completely unstoppable since 2013 has been limited QB play. Sure, Blake Sims had a great season and Coker put it together by the end, but they both had definite limitations, and of course the passing game of the last couple seasons was very uneven. Putting Tua on a team with the roster that this one has just isn’t fair.

Alabama jumped Texas A&M in the 2019 recruiting rankings without a single commitment or decommitment. That Bama bump is real, y’all:

Other highly-rated pledges include 4-star defensive end Antonio Alfano who is putting together a stellar senior season campaign at Colonia (N.J.) High School. The 6-foot-4, 285-pounder is one of the more athletically-gifted defensive lineman we’ve seen in some time and he’s putting that on full display this season.

Alfano sounds like the next great Alabama defensive lineman. People rave about him, especially his motor and attitude.

Something really weird happened in Texas Tech’s win over TCU last night. Check out this clip:

A TCU player lying on his stomach rendered the ball dead even though Texas Tech very clearly recovered it in bounds. I was immediately reminded of this play from nearly a decade ago that LSU fans still howl about. On replay, Patrick Peterson clearly catches this ball cleanly and gets both feet in bounds, sending the Tiger faithful into an uproar about Birmingham conspiracies. Take a look at Julio Jones’ hands and feet at the moment Peterson begins to gain possession, though.

A pass in flight is treated just like a fumble where the rules are concerned. While the ball is in the air, neither team has possession. Both teams have an equal right to gain possession, and if neither team does then it goes back to the offensive team. The announcers and LSU fans understandably focused on Peterson’s feet when reviewing the replay, and he was very clearly in bounds with the football. Nobody even considered the fact that Julio touching the ball while out of bounds would render it dead immediately unless it happened after Peterson had established clear possession.

To be clear, as a football fan and with uniforms disregarded, I would prefer to see the rules changed so that this play is called an interception on replay, and for Texas Tech to be awarded a recovery of that fumble. Julio, like the TCU player, never had anything close to possession of the football and Peterson made an unbelievable play. The rules are the rules, however, and there is no way that the replay officials could determine that Julio didn’t render the ball dead by touching it. There is no clear evidence that he did, of course, so the call would have stood either way.

Oh, one thing that never gets mentioned about that play? What a horrific throw by McElroy. It was ill-advised, late, and drifted back into the field of play. Just turrible.

Last...

So, you got Burner Phone Hugh paired with this loon.

Somebody might need to tell Nick that Freeze had a habit of rolling up 70+ by throwing late against the little sisters of the poor. He might kick Hugh’s ass on the sidelines.

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

Roll Tide.