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Jumbo Package: Calling all Gumps!

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It’s that time of year again. Step up and be counted, and tell us the story of your fandom.

CFP National Championship presented by AT&T - Alabama v Georgia Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone. Only one more day separates us from the start of football season, though as usual we will have to wait until all of the other good football is played because the networks can’t resist putting Alabama in prime time.

We’ll open with the most recent #OutworkYesterday video, which should get you ready to run through various partitions.

Before we get to the game previews, we have a tradition around here where all fans, offseason regulars and those who have hibernated for the summer alike, take the opportunity to re-introduce themselves to the community and share their story of how they became an Alabama fan. Mine has been shared several times, and can be found here for those interested. At this point I would add that my son is a junior at the Capstone and has even landed a job in the athletic apartment that allows him to report daily to the Mal Moore complex. My work in handing down the Crimson affliction is complete.

So, what’s your story? Tell us in the comments.

Moving on to your game previews and predictions:

With Alabama breaking in eight new starters of its own on defense, Petrino—long recognized as one of the sport’s most creative offensive minds—should find ways to move the ball. This year’s Louisville offense should look quite different stylistically than those of the last few seasons, meaning Saban and his staff won’t know exactly what they’re preparing for. Alabama should still dominate, but the enormous spread in this game undersells Petrino and the program he’s built at Louisville.

Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson is gone, but defense is the bigger issue for Louisville. The Cardinals were bad on D last season after Petrino replaced coordinator Todd Grantham with Peter Sirmon, whose Mississippi State D was bad in 2016. Petrino replaced Sirmon with Brian VanGorder, whose 2016 Notre Dame defense was so bad he got canned after four games. See where this is headed?

Full disclosure: I was born a Cardinals fan in Louisville and graduated from the university. Now let me explain why the Cardinals will pull a shocking upset on Saturday in Orlando. Just kidding. Blind, dumb allegiance is not one of my blind spots. The Crimson Tide will cover.

If only Louisville still had Lamar Jackson. The talk surrounding drama in Saturday’s season opener for Alabama would seem less hypothetical if the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner didn’t go pro a season early.

That paired with the underrated storyline of the Crimson Tide’s preseason -- the defensive backfield inexperience -- would’ve driven down that 25-point spread. Instead, it’ll be Jawon Pass making his first start for the Cardinals at 7 p.m. CT in Orlando.

Has anyone noticed that Alabama has won its previous 11 season-opening games by an average score of 40-12, all of them by double digits, six of them against top 10 ranked teams, and two others in the top 20? As has been noted, what has gone before doesn’t necessarily have any meaning. We’ve focused on Bama’s QB battle most of the preseason, but the running game will be the difference as the Tide pounds the Cardinals’ suspect defensive line. The Cardinals should have some success with a good passer (but not Lamar Jackson) and good receivers against a rebuilt Tide secondary. Alabama 38, Louisville 6.

The closer the game comes, the more one must wonder if the names of the program have anything to deal with predictions. If both rosters switched, there will be a decent amount of national media outlets that will project Alabama to win.

Saban is 9-0 in neutral-site season openers. He’s 11-0 overall. There’s always a chance for No. 1. My season preview listed Alabama as being the 35-30 losers. To be different, I’ll agree with Bobby Petrino and Co. and say Louisville will win in a close game.

My prediction: Louisville 37, Alabama 35

That last one is a Louisville blog. Surely the poor fella doesn’t believe that first quoted paragraph.

Unfortunately game coverage is a little sparse with the spread being what it is. Predicting scores is always difficult but even moreso in openers, and particularly in an opener with so many new faces for both teams. Still, the obvious talent discrepancy, particularly along both lines of scrimmage, is too great to consider the Cards to be any kind of threat. With the spread running about 25 and the over/under about 63, Vegas expects something around 44-19. Earlier in the week I said 48-20, and I’ll stick with that.

As usual. vote and give us your prediction in the comments.

Other notes:

“I felt like our program was being misrepresented in a lot of ways by a lot of people,” Saban said on his weekly radio show. “We get a lot of negative recruiting. People beat us up in a lot of ways -- in a lot of unfair ways and a lot of things that aren’t really true like we’re a football factory. We don’t care about the players, a lot of things like that, nobody has any fun. I mean, it’s ridiculous.”

The show producers originally pitched the idea of following the program all season.

”I said I’ll let you do it for fall camp,” Saban said, “but when it comes to game week, you’re out.”

Something tells me that he is speaking of one people in particular.

“There really is only one question that everybody wants to know, and that’s who’s going to run out onto the field first,” Saban said Thursday evening. “And I’m not going to tell you that.”

Earlier Thursday, Patrick tried to pry whether Tua Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts will start against the Cardinals out of the 12th-year head coach, but again, he elected not to reveal his choice.

“I think the No. 1 thing is respect for our players,” Saban told Patrick. “So, I haven’t talked to the players about that yet. I have a plan to do that, so I’m not going to say anything publicly until both those guys are informed as to how we’re going to play the game. I don’t think it would be fair to announce it, but I totally understand why you would ask.”

This QB situation has to be one of the more difficult to manage in Saban’s career. Everything that could be written has been, at this point we’ll see how it all shakes out on Saturday night.

Check out this photo:

That there is a whole mess of Roll Tide, folks.

Last, former Tide player Aaron Robinson suffered a scary head/neck injury in last night’s UCF game and had to be carted off. Fortunately, he appears to be OK.

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

Roll Tide.

Poll

What will be Saturday’s result?

This poll is closed

  • 64%
    Petrino would rather be back on that motorcycle, Tide cover the 25
    (398 votes)
  • 32%
    Alabama wins comfortably but Louisville covers, Tide by 10-24
    (203 votes)
  • 2%
    Too close for comfort, Tide by single digits
    (13 votes)
  • 0%
    Louisville pulls off the unthinkable (FLAGGED!)
    (5 votes)
619 votes total Vote Now