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Jumbo Package: Tide set to face the best defense it has seen all season — respect the Bulldogs

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The Bulldogs are for real

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Before we Gump really hard, let’s have a moment of seriousness and reflect on today: It is an extraordinary time and place in which we live — ruled by laws, not men; safe; opportunities for improvement; prosperous; and free to do as much dumb shit on the internet as we wish, such as the garbage I publish on a daily basis.

The only way to ensure that this continued experiment in freedom exists is by exercising your right to vote. We take our democracy for granted in this country, and it’s a malign negligence at best — and we even abuse it sometimes. But, like a marriage, the only way that it can work is by communicating and caring about it on a daily basis.

Be engaged and care, no matter how you vote — from county commissioner to the men and women who will represent you nationally to the state offices that greatly affect your day-to-day lives.

As a nation we pay lip service to the service and sacrifices of our armed forces and the freedoms they served and fought and died to protect and preserve: This is that freedom — the freedom to choose among ourselves a vision for a better hometown, a better state, and a better nation.

The preamble to the Constitution says nothing about creating a perfect union, merely a more perfect one. The only way we can get better is by choosing those who would fulfill that mission.

Roll Tide and get out and vote.

BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED GUMPING...

We know that it was an emotional game for Saban. But for the Tide, who have as many Louisiana players on their roster as native Alabamians, it was meaningful as well.

This may have been my favorite bit of premonitory smack talk:

“Music and fans can’t save you when those gates lock,” Miller posted before Alabama’s plane took off from Baton Rouge late Saturday night.

Fornelli has jumped on the recent talking point about the irrelevancy of the CFP in 2018 — and maybe since its inception: Has Alabama broken the system.

NB: He’s not saying it’s a bad thing that the Tide are so good, just that they’re playing at a different level than everyone else in 2018:

There is no team on Alabama’s level. I know we mention Clemson as a possibility, but I think we do that more to give ourselves hope there will be some drama this season. The reality is that while Clemson is also playing on a different level than the rest of the country, it’s on a separate tier from Alabama as well. Think of Alabama as first-class and Clemson as business-class while everybody else is packed in economy, clawing for a bag of peanuts.

Bill Bender at TSN tries to put this season in perspective: For all of the early season warts in the defense, this team is an absolute machine on an historical pace. For the 7th time in Saban’s Alabama tenure, he swept the SEC road slate — and obliterated past performance benchmarks: Alabama won those four games by 38.9 PPG.

Saturday’s shutout should serve as a warning to the rest of the SEC games on Alabama’s schedule, including Georgia in the SEC championship game. The same could be said of potential College Football Playoff matchups for any team that might encounter the Tide — this Tide — in this incredible season.

There are statement games. Then there are statement seasons.

Alabama had one of those games at LSU. It’s 60 percent through one of those seasons that could register forever.

Unreal.

Saturday was doubly sweet because the Tide reached another historical milestone:

No. 1 Alabama’s 29-0 blanking of then-No. 3 LSU was monumental for a number of reasons. First, it moved the Crimson Tide to 9-0 on the year, keeping the defending national champions in the driver’s seat to defend said title. It was the largest shutout win any team has ever registered over an AP top-5 team. It clinched the Tide’s fourth SEC West championship in five years.

But the win had more meaning than just that. It was the program’s 900th in school history, making Alabama just the fourth FBS program to reach such a mark.

The others? Michigan (951), Ohio State (906) and Texas (904).

I did a writeup about this very thing over the offseason: Alabama will likely eclipse Texas this season, and has a good chance to overcome Ohio State by early next year.

Here’s Saban’s press conference from yesterday: The boss sounds a little hoarse from all that yelling in Baton Rouge. He places particular emphasis on (as usual) overcoming the mental barriers and emotional hangovers following the LSU game.

If you prefer your #content in text form, Charlie’s got you covered:

On Jerry Jeudy’s play, Henry Ruggs III’s health...

”Jerry played a really good game and played a lot of plays in the game because of the situation with the other guys. But Smitty was able to play some in the game. Hopefully we’ll be able to build on that and he’ll be able to play a little bit more.

”We think Ruggs will be fine. Probably keep him out of practice today but expect him to be back practicing tomorrow. So hopefully we can get that group a little bit more healthy as we go. I think that’s going to be important for us especially in a game like this.”

There is a reason we traditionally play like crap in this game. And, FTR, State’s defense is even better (statistically, at least) than LSU’s — 6th in S&P+. Alabama won’t be able to line up and rush for 8 YPC and close to 300 yards. And, unless and until Alabama meets Clemson in the CFP, this will be the best defensive line the Tide faces all year.

In the preseason, I predicted that the West would be won this weekend between these two: with ‘State finishing as runners-up. No one predicted an offensive backslide in Starkville quite like we’ve seen this year — good lord, Nick Fitzgerald is tur’ble — But, the defense has held up their end of the bargain: it’s championship-caliber.

Alabama got its schedule for the rest of the season:

As the college football season heads into the final stretch, here are the remaining SEC ON CBS games leading up to the SEC Championship on Saturday, Dec. 1 (4:00 PM, ET) between No. 1*-ranked Alabama and No. 5*-ranked Georgia in a rematch of last season’s College Football Playoff National Championship.

The Citadel game is an 11:00 Central kick — probably on the SECN. And the API game will be (ugh) a 2:30 kick on CBS.

Alabama basketball returns tonight: be there or be L7. We’ll have a preview for you in a bit, and though BB4 had a great breakdown of the season, this one from 102.9 has some interesting stats buried within:

Last year, Alabama had no seniors on the active roster but will have four seniors along with seven players who have graduated or will graduate during the course of the season.

The roster features 10 returning players including four starter from last season’s NCAA Tournament squad. The 10 letterwinners combined for 69 percent of the team’s scoring, 80 percent of the total rebounds, 93 percent of the total blocks, 76 percent of the total steals, 64 percent of the total assists, 74 percent of their three point baskets made, 71 percent of the total made field goals and 77 percent of the total minutes played.

#BuiltByBama

Alabama dominated LSU up front on both sides. As a result, two big uglies were named SEC players of the week:

Williams led an offensive line that as a unit earned Alabama Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Recorded six knockdown blocks for the second straight game and third time this season as the Tide averaged 7.6 yards per carry on the ground.

Helped the Crimson Tide roll up 576 yards of total offense, including 281 on the ground, which is the most the Tide has rushed for against LSU since gaining 300 yards in 2002.

Williams did allow a sack or a pressure or commit a penalty.

Want to guess the other one?

The coaches named their players of the game, selecting 14 for honors — including literally the entire offensive line. LOL.

Alabama’s OL has been filthy in pass pro, but with the emergence of Cornbread, Deonte Brown, it’s finally rounded into the dominant ground unit we always knew it could be:

With Brown, Alabama’s offensive line is starting to consistently control the line of scrimmage.

“Tremendously,” running back Damien Harris said of the line’s progress. “Every single week, they’re met with a new challenge, a new form of adversity somehow. Coach Saban challenges them every single week because we know we’re going to get a defense’s best game, and it really starts up front with the O-line. They really set the tone and set the standard for how we’re going to play in a game. They’ve rose to the occasion every single week.

“We’re lucky to play behind those guys.”

Here is Joe Moorhead’s presser if you want a peek behind enemy lines.

Most of Alabama’s staff is not primed for a run at a HC job, but we thought that about Pruitt too. Les Miles is a favorite at Kansas, which fired David Beaty yesterday. But, expect Locksley’s name to swirl around some places (despite two disastrous previous stints.)

“After a thorough evaluation of the program, I believe that new leadership is necessary for our football team to move forward and compete at the highest level of the Big 12 Conference,” AD Jeff Long said in a statement

Tua’s Heisman odds are now a ridiculous 1/10 — you’d have to bet $100 to win ten bucks. But for NFL scouts that pales next to what they see in Mr. Tagovailoa as a pro — try “an even better kind of Russell Wilson

Yikes. No pressure, kid.

“... I think Tua’s got kind of the same dimensions from a body type perspective. Anytime as a scout that you’re making a comparison, it kind of starts there. They’re very similar athletes, but the one thing I think Tua does even better than Russ is that I think he anticipates throws better. He can really visualize a throw. Guys don’t have to be open. He sees openings before they happen, and those are things you can’t coach.

We’ll see you later tonight for ‘Bama basketball.

I won’t do a CFB post tonight, but in 6:30 MACtion you have the red-hot Buffalo Bulls at home vs. Kent State. I told y’all last week to take the Bulls, who are riding a ridiculous 7-2 ATS streak. Don’t mess with a good thing in an iffy MAC: Tonight, take them again at -22.5. Kent will score, but Tyree Jackson is going to do filthy stuff to that Golden Flashes defense.

Roll Tide