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Jumbo Package: The Jalen files

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Missouri v Alabama Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone. With the semifinals set for tomorrow, people are talking about Jalen Hurts.

Hurts deflected a chance to comment on his place in the sport’s history: “I can’t make that decision for me. Whenever the time is right … make it now, make it in a month, whatever.”

Don’t wait a month. Don’t wait to see if he pulls off one of the biggest upsets in the playoff’s history. Appreciate him now: Jalen Hurts managed to put together a classic career while smoothly handling the sport’s modern turbulence. He was not intimidated when he took over at Alabama. He did not flinch when Tagovailoa replaced him. In arguably Alabama’s biggest win of 2018, the SEC Championship Game, Hurts replaced an injured and struggling Tagavailoa and led the Crimson Tide to victory. Then he went to Norman and, as Riley says, “sped up a relationship that, a lot of times, takes multiple years to build.”

“Well, I appreciate the support that they’ve shown this entire year,” Hurts said. “I appreciate it genuinely. I think that says it all, the fact that they’re supporting me, that they’re there for me, that they’re wishing me luck and hoping the best for the Oklahoma Sooners. I mean, that’s a great thing.”

Once they learned to communicate, Saban’s appreciation for Hurts mushroomed.

”If there were three or four plays in a game, maybe there’s an RPO, he should have thrown rather than hand the ball off, whatever it was, he’d always say, ‘I left a lot of money on the table,’” Saban says. “He was never trying to make an excuse for why he did what he did. A lot of times when I correct players, the first thing” -- Saban snaps his fingers -- “they want to do is tell me why they did what they did.

”I don’t really care!” he says after a quick chuckle. “It was wrong. I’m trying to tell you how to do it right. It was never that way with him.”

He calmly, and coolly, led two touchdown drives as No. 1 Alabama competed a dramatic 35-28 victory over No. 4 Georgia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The irony, or course, was that Tagovailoa had replaced him and led Alabama’s 26-23 overtime victory in the previous season’s National Championship Game, in the same building and against the very same opponent.

This time it was the youngster being among the first to congratulate him on the sideline, and not the other way around.

”None of this has been easy,” Hurts said afterward, “but I think it shows true character and true heart to fight to the finish.”

1. LSU vs. Oklahoma (Peach Bowl/CFP Semifinal)

This game has all sorts of storylines that thread through Tuscaloosa. Would it be good for LSU to win and send another SEC representative to the championship game? Is there an affinity for league teams, or a disdain for any league rival, especially one that sits in Alabama’s own division? This question probably divides Alabama fans fairly evenly on one side or the other. The support for Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma’s quarterback, to have a good showing will be strong. Nothing is ever unanimous and there are a handful of absolutists who won’t pull for a transfer, even when transferring was a perfectly logical decision. Hurts has had success in Atlanta before but there is a good chance his excellent college career will end at the site of some of his greatest triumphs.

I personally give Jalen and Oklahoma very little chance of winning the game, but his presence in the playoff allows media members to talk a bit about Alabama, and Alabama brings eyeballs. Even Ed Orgeron was asked about what it meant to beat Alabama in the lead up to the Peach Bowl. The shadow that Nick Saban casts over the sport is truly incredible.

247sports has Alabama on upset alert.

Latest line: Alabama by 7

Why it’s upset-worthy: Down a pair of defensive starters and playing without star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama will try and avoid a 1-2 record since losing the program record-setter in November against Michigan. The Wolverines are ranked No. 7 nationally in total defense this season, the stingiest unit the Crimson Tide has faced all year. Last time out, Mac Jones threw for a career-best 335 yards and four touchdowns, but both of his interceptions were returned for touchdowns during a loss at Auburn. Michigan ranked first in the Big Ten this fall in fewest explosive plays given up, an area Alabama excels in.

It will be a great matchup on that side of the ball and a great audition for one Mac Jones.

Josh Jacobs has had some rough luck at the end of his rookie year. First he fractured his shoulder, then acquired what sounds like a MRSA infection that landed him in the hospital.

But it turns out, if Jacobs misses Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos, it will be because of his shoulder injury. As he clarified, again via Instagram, on Thursday, Jacobs was treated for a skin condition. “It’s not a football injury. Just had an infection,” Jacobs wrote.

The Raiders issued a statement on Thursday about Jacobs’ hospital visit: “Josh Jacobs woke up with discomfort in his leg on Wednesday, and he was evaluated and treated for a superficial skin infection.”

It sounds like he will probably miss the last game of the season, but he has had an outstanding rookie year that may well earn him some hardware.

Christopher Walsh remembers that time that Alabama flattened Notre Dame in the national title game.

With the 42-14 victory over Notre Dame in the BCS title game, Alabama became college football’s first back-to-back consensus national champion since Nebraska in 1994-95, as well as the first school to win three national titles in the BCS era — never mind in four years. Outside of the Cornhuskers one had to go all the way back to the Fighting Irish in the late 1940s to find a comparison, and those teams didn’t play postseason games.

Those dudes probably still have Eddie Lacy nightmares.

Last, Alabama signee Drew Sanders dropped his senior highlights on Hudl yesterday. Most of them are offense, but he looks like a holy terror coming off the edge on defense. Enjoy.

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

Roll Tide.