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Jumbo Package: Alabama opens as 35 1⁄2 point favorite over Tennessee

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

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NCAA Football: Alabama at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. The Tide enjoyed a generally satisfying road cover in College Station this weekend. A few recaps:

The performance came against an Aggie defensive line that is the clear strength of its unit. Defensive tackle Justin Madubuike was a preseason first-team All-SEC selection by the coaches; Buddy Johnson’s 5 1/2 tackles for a loss were tied for sixth in the SEC entering the day.

“We thought they were really decent, really good athletes. Had great get-off, great motors, great drive.,” Dickerson said. “Really this week, it was going to be about who was going to fight the longest. Obviously the second move is there, that’s what gets the most quarterback pressures and sacks, so really it’s going to be about you lasting longer than the other guy.”

Bama’s defense showed up: If there was a criticism of the Crimson Tide through five games, it was a defense that hadn’t exactly lived up to expectations. The young front seven only notched 10 sacks and 30 tackles for loss to this point. They had five sacks, seven tackles for loss on Saturday and made Aggies quarterback Kellen Mond miserable for a full four quarters.

This completed the puzzle. Tagovailoa and the offense is a given at this point, but there was still one piece missing. Saban and coordinator Pete Golding -- with help from a relentless defense -- slid it in.

The talk isn’t going to go away, just as it didn’t go away in 2017, the year that rat poison was born. What washed it away that season, and no one will be comforted by this, was a loss at Auburn. Saban has talked about the value of such a cold slap in the face (my phrase, not his) being necessary occasionally. That year, it worked and Alabama came back to win the CFP national title. So when he speaks of history after a 47-28 win, understand that there is a context. He isn’t being cranky or combative — he’s describing his concerns.

His status for next week’s game against Tennessee rests with the SEC who will review the play. Unlike targeting ejections, situations like Smith’s will be evaluated in the league office to determine if further punishment is handed out.

Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs was standing right by the altercation as it occurred.

“It was a back and forth,” he said. “I can’t really say what went through his head but I mean the guy slammed him on the ground and the guy swung on him. I don’t really know how to say what he was feeling but you can just see his reaction to it.”

The offensive line was nearly flawless in pass pro, and the running game was acceptable against a formidable Aggies’ front. Whether this is the lineup when Owens is healthy remains to be seen, but it’s good to see the unit performing with different combinations. Kyle Flood has done a fantastic job developing them. On the other side of the ball, Terrell Lewis and Anfernee Jennings were finally able to be the dynamic duo we hoped they would be. May that continue.

We will have to wait and see on Devonta Smith, though it didn’t really seem like an incident that would warrant additional punishment. So many people, even the announcers are ignorant of the rules, too. Targeting results in an automatic suspension of an additional half, gentlemen. That wasn’t targeting.

Oh, CBSSports something for that rat poison, Nick.

1. Ohio State – The Buckeyes took the weekend off. Halfway through the season, Ohio State looks formidable in every facet.

2. LSU – After winning a shootout against Florida, the Tigers move up a couple of seeds in the bracket. Is Joe Burrow your Heisman front-runner? Is LSU the SEC West’s best?

3. Oklahoma – Does Oklahoma have a defense? Surprisingly, yes. And yeah, it matters. It’s just possible the Sooners are closer to a complete package than in recent years.

4. Alabama – Does Alabama’s defense have some issues? Yes. Does it matter? Have you seen Tua Tagovailoa and all of his wonderful toys? It might not matter.

Just look at all those teams ahead of Alabama!

It’s a long look ahead, but if LSU loses in a competitive game to Alabama and wins out otherwise, I don’t see how the committee leaves them on the sideline in favor of a Clemson team that is going to end up with zero ranked wins. Maybe Ohio State and Wisconsin will split and rankle Jim Delany by leaving the Big Ten out again.

Moving on, Alabama is a little bit favored this weekend.

I guess it isn’t surprising that the spread looks like Alabama is playing a Sun Belt team since, you know, Tennessee lost at home to a Sun Belt team.

Last, the honeymoon is officially over for Kirby.

There will be people who push back against the premise of this column and argue that if Georgia wins out, it can still make the College Football Playoff. And they aren’t wrong! Georgia made the CFP in 2017 after a regular season loss to Auburn, and could conceivably do so again. But to do so this year would mean going undefeated against Florida, Auburn, Texas A&M and the winner of the SEC West race (Alabama, LSU or Auburn) in the SEC Championship Game.

Sorry, Bulldogs fans, but that isn’t happening. Feel free to tag OldTakesExposed about it. Georgia lost all room for error Saturday and has too tough a remaining schedule and too many issues to survive without another blemish.

South Carolina’s defense certainly showed out and they deserved that win, but I’m not so sure that Georgia won’t beat Florida and Auburn. The Dawgs moved the ball up and down the field, they just kept turning it over. The Dawgs don’t look particularly impressive, but they can right the ship.

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

Roll Tide.