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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

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Tua Tagovailoa just may come back to Alabama in 2020

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

The Cotton Bowl gets two at-large picks with one being the best Group of Five teams. That’s looking like No. 17 Memphis if the Tigers can beat Cincinnati in the AAC championship. Anyway, Baylor or Oklahoma could be available if a Big 12 champion doesn’t make the playoff. One of those two would go to the Sugar Bowl.

Alabama is the fifth-best SEC team in the playoff rankings and there’s nothing it can do to jump any of them. Neither Georgia, nor LSU would come anywhere near falling below No. 12 with a title-game loss, so it would look more like Alabama would be outside the New Year’s Six bowls.

The Citrus Bowl gets the first pick of SEC teams after the power bowls. That features a Big Ten or ACC opponent. After that, it’s the Outback and TaxSlayer bowls.

The team with the worst standing in last year’s playoff rankings to make a power bowl was LSU. The No. 11 Tigers made the Fiesta Bowl as an at-large selection. No. 12 Penn State played Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl.

Alabama hasn’t played outside of the New Year’s Six/BCS bowls since 2010. It beat Michigan State 49-7 in the Capital One Bowl, now back to being called the Citrus Bowl.

Well, the last time Alabama got pushed into the Citrus Bowl (Capital One Bowl), it wound up kicking off two seasons of fury from the Tide as they beat LSU in the famed rematch and followed that up with the beatdown of Notre Dame the next year.

With it looking likely that Alabama ends up there again, here’s to hoping the team uses the motivation of failure from 2018-2019 to tear up the NCAA again, as there should be no vestiges of entitlement left over, if that was ever a problem.

Had it not been for two pick-sixes, Mac Jones would have had an Iron Bowl to remember.

The redshirt sophomore made his first-ever start on the road at Auburn on Saturday and led Alabama to 38 points. Despite the turnovers, Jones’ performance in the team’s regular-season finale impressed former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, he said in a radio interview.

“I thought Mac did an unbelievable job, to be honest,” McCarron told Ryan Fowler of Tide 100.9 FM on Tuesday. “Not only for it to be the third start of his, I think, long career that he’s going to have starting there, just to come into that game and only the people that have played in it truly understand just the competition in that game year in and year out, no matter what the records are and then having that much pressure on him to really play well and give the team and the program a chance to, if you win, to make the College Football Playoff probably, I just thought he did an unbelievable job.

AJ really had a lot to say about Mac Jones, most of it the same thing over and over. I worried going into the game that Mac’s biggest issue would be caving to pressure and taking a bunch of sacks, but he really proved me wrong by never once wilting despite a pair of back-breaking pick-sixes.

Of course, that’s the issue. On one hand, Mac played very, very well for most of the game, especially for a backup. On the other, though, one pick six came from a horrendous throw under no pressure, and the other was a horrendous throw forced by making a bad decision on first down, throwing blindly instead of taking a 3-yard sack. And without those two missteps, Alabama wins that game by three scores.

Do you think that those two plays were flukes, or are they going to be who Mac is going forward: a dangerous and efficient QB prone to one or two backbreaking mistakes per game? Thoughts?

“There is a risk and a reward if I stay and a risk and a reward if I go,” Tagovailoa said.

“The risk if I stay is obviously ‘Do I get hurt again?’ The reward is that I could come back and have another good year like my sophomore year and elevate myself back to the very top of the (NFL) draft.

“If I leave, I think the risk is a little higher. That risk would be how far do I drop in the draft. To me, it’s 50-50 between going in the first round and possibly going in the second round. If I go somewhere from first (overall) to around 24th, the money will be set. But let’s say — and I am just picking a number — that I go to the 31st pick. That would be about 9 million dollars. That’s a lot of money, an amount of money I’ve never had before, but it’s not high first-round money and you can never make that money up. They say you can (make it up) on your next contract but money lost is money lost to me.

“Those are the deciding factors. If my parents tell me that they think I should leave, that is obviously going to be a factor. But so far, they’ve told me that it’s my decision.”

This is an amazing interview with Tua Tagovailoa. He’s being very candid with Cecil Hurt about his uncertainty of the future, and also spends some time talking about the decision he made to play in that fateful Mississippi State game and how you can’t play football afraid of possible injury.

I won’t add much, but I will say that even if he’s unable to play and can only be a sideline “coach,” I’d be ecstatic to see him in Crimson one more season.

Alabama was well-represented during another week at the professional level, as several former Crimson Tide players were contributors for teams across the National Football League.

Derrick Henry (Titans) was the only former Alabama player to score a touchdown in Week 13. Henry and Josh Jacobs (Raiders) each topped 100 rushing yards on Sunday and eclipsed 1,000-yards for their respective seasons. It was the second 1,000-yard season for Henry, and Jacobs became the first Oakland rookie to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season.

Eight former Crimson Tide players were also inactive this week in Anthony Averett (Ravens), Tony Brown (Packers), Damien Harris (Patriots), Ronnie Harrison (Jaguars), Julio Jones (Falcons), C.J. Mosley (Jets), Ross Pierschbacher (Redskins) and T.J. Yeldon (Bills).

The Bengals waived Andre Smith on Saturday, while the Broncos placed Cyrus Jones on the non-football injury list with an undisclosed illness. They are no longer on active rosters.

Alabama running backs continue to bust in the NFL, with Derrick Henry eclipsing nearly every stat for running backs over the past year, Josh Jacobs being in contention for Rookie of the Year, and Bo Scarbrough finding his groove for the Detroit Lions after never even starting at Alabama.

The unfortunate news is that CJ Mosley has officially been sent to the IR for the rest of the season.

Five-star Alabama quarterback commit Bryce Young is up to No. 6 overall in the industry-generated 247Sports Composite Rankings. He previously resided at No. 21 (247Sports has had him ranked at No. 4 overall since the summer).

After a posting video game-like numbers his senior season at Mater Dei, including 4,528 yards passing and 58 touchdowns, Young is getting set to make the move to Tuscaloosa next month for the next chapter of his football and academic career.

Finally, recruiting season is upon us. Bryce Young has dominated everyone so thoroughly this season that he’s shot up the recruiting boards, with the chance to rise even higher. Theodore, AL linebacker commit Demouy Kennedy has also continued to rocket up the rankings, and is on the cusp of becoming a five-star recruit as well.

With that, Alabama has jumped past LSU, and is only one (admittedly nebulous) point on 247’s algorithm from catching the previously thought uncatchable Clemson recruiting class.

Now the Tide just needs a couple of offensive lineman and a certain 5-star tight end to really cement things and round out the class.

Roll Tide!