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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

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It’s Iron Bowl week. And also Thanksgiving, I guess.

NCAA Football: Western Carolina at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

This, a Jones vs. Nix showdown, just doesn’t have the same pop as some in the past decade. Though not necessarily a rivalry built on quarterback play, it has included a Heisman winner in Cam Newton and two runners up in AJ McCarron and Tagovailoa.

There’s no SEC title on the line and only a chance of a playoff for Alabama even in victory.

A Mother of all Iron Bowls this is not, but that’s a high burden to reach.

A 55-44 final isn’t likely either given the state of the offenses and the defensive challenges each face.

It’s still Alabama vs. Auburn, though, even without the deafening buzz.

This is a well-written piece by Casagrande about some of the prevailing storylines around this Iron Bowl. Above all, though, is the fact that there is a diminished importance placed on this year’s matchup with LSU having already locked up the SEC West. I think that’s mostly a good thing for Alabama, as the team has tended to play very tentative in the first half of big games over the past 3 seasons, while Auburn has always had a tendency to outplay their typical performance in big games at home.

The four players who didn’t play Saturday due to injuries — wide receiver Henry Ruggs and defensive linemen Raekwon Davis, D.J. Dale and Phidarian Mathis — were all present for practice. Dale seemed to be doing less than the others during drills.

Just based on how far it looked like his ankle twisted on the TV broadcast, I’m honestly surprised Raekwon Davis is even playing again this season. It’s good all four of those injuries are mending up, as Alabama is going to need every defensive lineman they can muster to slow down the Auburn rushing attack.

Alabama’s positioning in the College Football Playoff rankings hasn’t changed.

The Crimson Tide is still at No. 5 in the new rankings, which were unveiled Tuesday night.

There were several changes around Alabama in the rankings, though.

Ohio State jumped LSU for the No. 1 spot. Meanwhile, Utah is up to No. 6 and takes over the spot previously occupied by Oregon. Oklahoma moved up from No. 9 to No. 7.

The rest of the top seven was the same as last week. Clemson is still No. 3. Georgia is still No. 4.

This was about as predictable of a ranking of the top 6 as you’ll ever see on any given week. Assuming LSU stomps a shaky Georgia team and Alabama handles Auburn, then Utah is going to be the main competition for Alabama making the playoffs. Both will be one loss squads who have mostly looked dominant all season, but Utah will have a conference championship and a loss to a bad USC team, while Alabama only has a respectable loss to LSU. It’ll be a hotly debated internet argument for weeks, no doubt.

No, it isn’t already April 1. And no, I didn’t fall and hit my head. While Alabama might be the goal-post-hittingest team in college football history this season, Auburn is actually worse than the Tide.

That’s because hitting the goal posts on field-goal attempts means you’re actually really close to making it. Which is something Auburn’s Anders Carlson is forgetting how to do at an epic pace.

While Carlson has made 70 percent of his field goals this season, he has been anything but accurate recently. Carlson has made just 37.5 percent of his field goal attempts in the Tigers’ past 3 games — including missing 1 against Samford last week.

Not that Alabama has been much better, but at least Joseph Bulovas has been steadier recently. Kicking the ball through the goal posts has been an annual struggle for Alabama, to the point that you can almost hear Crimson Tide fans hold their breath when it is time to kick.

But there is a certain glee in seeing Auburn — which has been so much better in the kicking department year after year — struggle with something seemingly so natural to the Tigers.

Auburn’s actually got a worse kicking game than Alabama this year? Well I never...

UNC’s game against Elon should be a cause for concern. The Tar Heels gave up way too many open 3’s against a team that has struggled mightily to shoot the 3.

Alabama isn’t afraid to shoot the 3.

However, Alabama’s inability to take care of the basketball is why I think UNC will pull this one out. In its 93-79 loss to Rhode Island earlier this month, Alabama committed 22 turnovers. That won’t win many games. And the last thing Alabama wants to do is give UNC more possessions.

Both teams like to score quickly. It should be a high possession game. But the Tar Heels are the better overall team.

Here’s a quick breakdown from a North Carolina news outlet about the upcoming Alabama-UNC matchup in the Battle for Atlantis game later today. The 6th ranked Tar Heels are a significantly better team that anyone Alabama’s seen so far (and likely all season), so it will be interesting to see how they respond.

The Crimson Tide (2-2) will open the annual invitational by playing No. 6 North Carolina on Wednesday, Nov. 27. Depending on the outcome of that game, Alabama will face either Iowa State or Michigan on Thanksgiving and then play in a third game on Friday, Nov. 29.

Altogether, the 2019 Battle 4 Atlantis field includes four teams ranked in the latest AP Poll in No. 6 North Carolina, No. 8 Gonzaga, No. 11 Oregon and No. 13 Seton Hall. The Tide, Cyclones, Wolverines and Southern Miss Golden Eagles round out what is a loaded tournament.

“I think these games are big,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. “You look at a Carolina, you look at Michigan or Iowa State or Gonzaga, Oregon, Seton Hall, they’re all quality teams.

Following that, Alabama gets two more high profile games to work on whatever they learn about their team in the opener against UNC. Overall, it’s as good of a chance as they can possibly get to really grow as a basketball squad with a brand new coach and offensive philosophy.

Roll Tide!