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Jumbo Package: Tide can’t afford to look past Auburn

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Alabama Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. Michael Casagrande has some wrap up of the Arkansas game for you.

— Arkansas had a few running lanes early with some missed gap fits but the Hogs didn’t do its damage on the ground. It entered as the No. 6 rushing offense in the nation but finished with its second-fewest rushing yards of the season with 110. Only Georgia held the Hogs to fewer with 75 though they had the same 2.6-yard average in both.

The defense has shown cracks throughout the season and the Razorbacks exposed their secondary Saturday with several big plays. However, there’s one area where Alabama will have a big advantage when the teams meet in the SEC title game. Its passing game is significantly better than any Georgia has seen all year. With Bryce Young throwing and John Metchie and Jameson Williams catching passes, the Crimson Tide are going to be able to put points on the board. Their defense may have issues, but the Bulldogs don’t have an offense that is overwhelming. They typically wear down defenses because the opponents’ offenses can’t stay on the field. That won’t be a problem for Alabama in what should be one of the best games of the year.

That last point is key: matchups matter. Alabama has stopped the run quite well in recent weeks. Georgia runs the ball very well at 5.28 yards per carry on the season, but if the Tide can limit them in that area and turn it into a battle of Bryce Young vs. Stetson Bennett, you have to like their chances. That will be no easy task, of course, but it’s the reason that the betting line will be much closer than the transitive property would suggest.

Of course, while the ticket is now punched to Atlanta, we have business to take care of before we get there.

This quote from Shane Beamer isn’t terribly complimentary of the Barn after Saturday’s game.

Beamer proclaimed the South Carolina offense that got outgained 379 to 306 by Auburn kept its run game simpler than usual.

“We were down 14 nothing,” Beamer told reporters via Zoom after Saturday’s win. “These guys never flinched, like always they just come right back out there and play their rear ends off in the second half. I mean, we lined up and basically ran the same two running plays on offense the entire game.”

Surely we can come up with two running plays, right?

Michael Casagrande has a cool historical about the first Iron Bowl, including the complete game story from that 1893 Auburn victory.

The line for tickets to the first Iron Bowl was long but orderly, according to the next day’s edition of The Daily News, as all forms of public transportation brought spectators to the corner of 32nd and Clairmont.

That fevered passion is about all that survives from that first meeting entering the 86th edition set for 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium. But to understand where the Iron Bowl is now, it’s important to remember where it started.

And that was a Wednesday afternoon in February of 1893.

Alabama is almost assuredly going to be #3 in this week’s playoff rankings.

“Interesting aspect in my rankings OSU/UM play this weekend and UGA/Bama next week,” he tweeted. “In my opinion if UC wins their next 2, they will be in the playoff.”

Both have No. 2 Alabama slipping to No. 3 after Bryce Young passed for a school-record 559 yards and five touchdowns to clinch a spot in the SEC championship game with a 42-35 victory Saturday over No. 21 Arkansas. But, this one wasn’t settled until Arkansas’s onside kick went out of bounds with 1:02 left.

You know what? Oregon is out now, and the Big Ten is guaranteed to have no more than one team with fewer than two losses. If Cincinnati goes undefeated, let ‘em in. No, I don’t think they are one of the four best out there, but putting a pair of two-loss non-champs over them would be tough to defend.

This is the interesting question: if Alabama and Ohio State win handily, as expected, over their respective rivals this weekend, is the field essentially set? As long as Cincinnati stays unbeaten, it sure seems like they’ll join Georgia, Alabama, and Ohio State unless Alabama just completely fails to show up in Atlanta. Even in the unlikely event that Ohio State somehow falls in Indianapolis, no way they are sitting home while either Wisconsin or Iowa, the only two teams still alive in the West for all intents and purposes, make the playoff. Oklahoma State or Oklahoma can still become one-loss conference champs, but the committee has them ranked #9 and #13. Importantly, Ole Miss is ranked ahead of Oklahoma and would thus be a better win.

Not that I want to find out, but can you imagine a two-loss Alabama edging out one-loss Oklahoma State ten years after the 2011 controversy that birthed this playoff madness?

Needless to say, none of this is relevant unless Alabama takes care of business in Auburn for the first time since 2015.

If you didn’t hear, Dan Mullen got canned.

“The Florida people are cannibalistic. They do eat their own. And what I’m about to tell you, you already know, but I’ll say it anyways: outside of Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer, Florida is where coaches go to get fired,” Finebaum said Sunday on The ESPN College Football Podcast. “Ron Zook, who followed Spurrier got fired. He wasn’t a bad coach. He beat FSU his last year there, which used to be the decider. And then, Muschamp turned out to be a very expensive disaster, and McElwain was even worse. And now Mullen. So, since Urban Meyer, we have now seen Mullen, Muschamp, McElwain and Mullen all fired. The three musketeers.”

I’m just spitballing here, but if I’m Stricklin, anyone with a surname starting with “M” is disqualified.

Nate Oats is finding his defensive stoppers.

“I think when we’ve got Charles Bediako, Keon Ellis on the floor defensively, our numbers are a lot better,” Oats said. “We’ve got to get some other guys to get their defensive efficiency numbers up. There’s a ton of numbers out there, it’s a very small sample size in the first two games. You’d like to see something over the course of five, six games before you start making too many determinations off it.

“But I think you can see we’re going to be better defensively when Charles is on the floor and when Keon Ellis on the floor. Darius Miles [has been] giving us some really good minutes the first two games as well.”

Last, NFL exploits.

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

Roll Tide.