Every year, I dread this week. You’ve heard enough of my rantings on it around here by now, but here’s the gist: Alabama gains absolutely nothing and has everything to lose by playing Auburn— the little brother who gets 100% of their notoriety by being the team that gets to play and occasionally upset Alabama on a regular basis. I’d be happy to send them to the ACC in exchange for Virginia Tech or someone like that.
And I’ll stop there. On to the news.
Running back Damien Harris (concussion) was at practice in a black jersey. He was absent yesterday.
Checking in with the offensive line: LG Deonte Brown (turf toe) was at practice but working with the second team, as he was yesterday. RG Alex Leatherwood (twisted ankle) was there but didn’t appear to be doing much.
Also absent during the open period today: offensive tackle Matt Womack. Not sure his situation, since we saw him yesterday.
With those two guards out, the first team offensive line was Jonah Williams, Lester Cotton, Ross Pierschbacher, Josh Casher and Jedrick Wills.
Emil Ekiyor Jr. was working at RG with the second team.
-- Jalen Hurts continues to look better on the ankle he sprained at Tennessee in October. He was making more cuts on the ankle in drills that wouldn’t feel good if it were still injured.
-- On a related note, Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley was named a finalist for the Broyles Award going to the nation’s top assistant coach.
Here’s your daily injury reports from AL.com and Tide Sports. Not a whole lot to note that we didn’t already know. Deonte Brown is going to be hurting for a while with turf toe, so that’s not healing up in a week. Leatherwood is really the only injury to keep an eye on. A twisted ankle is something that could be totally gone in a few days or a few weeks. We just don’t know.
The interior run game struggled last week against the Citadel, and having two mauling offensive guards ailing won’t do anything towards remedying that.
We’re one step closer to a Nick Saban-Jim Harbaugh matchup in the College Football Playoff semifinals.
For a third straight week, Saban and Alabama are No. 1 in the Playoff rankings with Harbaugh and Michigan at No. 4.
If both teams win out, and if the rankings remain the same, they would face off in the Cotton Bowl Dec. 29.
This is one of those matchups that the media and fans have been pining for ever since Harbaugh left the pros to coach at Michigan. The satellite camps cold war a couple of years back, plus some major recruiting battles (like that of Najee Harris) had things heated for a while, but Michigan’s state of constant runner-up in the Big 10 has prevented it from ever really becoming a thing. If the teams do their part though, don’t be surprised to see the committee try to make sure this match up happens.
Quarterback Jarrett Stidham insists that unpredictable things can happen in rivalry games.
”I think every year, regardless of what the circumstances are for either team, anything can happen in this game,” Stidham said. “Rivalry games, for whatever reason, are just like that. Ohio State-Michigan is kind of another one where anything can happen.
”Everybody here, we’re just very excited for the opportunity. I mean, we get to play the No. 1 team in the country, on the road, everybody against you. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Like I said: everything to lose and nothing to gain for the Tide.
Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson said the Tide has no lack of respect for this Auburn offense and quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
“Obviously, they didn’t start off the season as they wanted to but you can see every week they got better,” Wilson said. “It’s not one of those games where we go in sleeping and underestimating anybody. We’re going in to compete, have fun and hopefully dominate the game.”
Mack is giving the Barn some lip service, but it is good to know that the team isn’t taking them lightly. The first half against The Citadel might have been the best thing that could have happened to this Alabama squad to force them to acknowledge a little bit of complacency.
Ultimately, I think this one looks similar to the Alabama-Mississippi State game, but with slightly more offense on both sides. A final score somewhere in the neighborhood of 35-14. Alabama wins by 3 scores, but is a shade under covering the spread.
But, I have a solid track record of being too irrational over this game and not coming close on my predictions.
No. 1 Alabama
Beat Auburn and Georgia to finish 13–0 and SEC champs: IN
Lose one of its two remaining games to finish 12–1: Still IN, whether it’s with an SEC title or not. We have a really hard time seeing Alabama fall all the way to No. 5 no matter what Clemson, Notre Dame or Michigan do down the stretch.
I’m not totally sure that Alabama would make it in if they beat Auburn and lost to Georgia. Assuming the others at the top all won out, then Clemson and Notre Dame would be your clear cut 1 and 2. A one loss Georgia would have to go over a one loss Alabama, considering they would have beat the Tide just a week before.
Then it comes down to Alabama vs Michigan. Alabama might have looked better, but Michigan would come with the same record, plus a conference championship win over Ohio State. I’m not sure who the committee would pick in that situation (nor would I envy them having to do it).
All that to say: how about we go undefeated so we don’t have to worry about it, eh boys?