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Jumbo Package: Stopping Jerome Ford will be key in the Cotton Bowl

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Syndication: The Enquirer Albert Cesare / The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Happy Monday, everyone. Little attention is being paid to the Cotton Bowl, as almost all of the playoff coverage centers around Georgia vs. Michigan in the Orange, but we will bring you what we have.

The Cincinnati Enquirer notes that the Bearcats have run the ball on everyone they’ve faced this season.

No defense has limited the Bearcats below three yards per carry this season, which is aided by Desmond Ridder’s ability to scramble. Ridder ranks second on the team with 371 rushing yards and he’s scored six touchdowns on the ground.

Houston ranks 11th in the country in run defense, allowing 105.7 yards per game, but Ford exploded for 187 yards on 18 carries to earn Most Outstanding Player honors. It was the first time Houston ceded more than 200 yards on the ground to a team all season (Navy ran for 190 yards on Sept. 25 and that was on 52 carries).

The fact that Jerome Ford will be the likely centerpiece should Cincinnati find a way to upset Alabama is something.

SB Nation’s fine Bearcats site, Down the Drive, notes that the Cotton is one of the only major bowls that Alabama does not have a winning record in. The 1954 game is an infamous one.

As Rice’s running back Dicky Maegle raced down the sideline for a sure touchdown, Lewis jumped off the Alabama bench and tackled Maegle. The referee award Maegle a touchdown and ejected Lewis from the game. Maegele scored 4 touchdowns on the day and ran for a longtime Cotton Bowl record of 265 yards. The pair later appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show together, where Lewis explained that he was “just so full of Alabama” that he had to do it. Thankfully, Maegle was not hurt on the play and, in later years, the men became friends.

Evan Neal notes that Bryce Young is very much a team player.

“The first thing Bryce did, he texted me saying, ‘I couldn’t do it without you,’” Neal said. “And that just shows the kind of character he has. I feel like he didn’t really look at it as an individual award. He looked at it as more of a team thing because it took just more than him just to get that award. It took everybody on the offense surrounding him to be able to make that happen. So I’m extremely proud of Bryce. I’m extremely proud of what he’s been able to accomplish.”

As are we all, Evan.

Those who go to the Cotton Bowl will have a unique opportunity to drive a NASCAR simulator.

The special eNASCAR Arcade activation with Goodyear will provide attendees with a unique racing experience as fans get the chance to race each other at some of NASCAR’s most iconic tracks via iRacing simulators on the truck’s main stage.

“NASCAR has been an incredible partner this year as we’ve delivered a one-of-a-kind racing and gaming experience to fans around the country,” said Jud Hannigan, CEO of Allied Esports. “We’re thrilled to cap off 2021 with that same excitement for fans at the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Eve.”

Sounds pretty cool.

Pierce Quick has decided to be a hell of an engineer.

Quick, one of the top-rated offensive linemen in the 2019 recruiting class, chose Alabama over Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Clemson, Michigan and Oklahoma.

Georgia Tech’s run game coordinator/offensive line coach Brent Key served as Alabama’s offensive line coach from 2016-18 during Quick’s recruitment.

Best of luck to him.

Bo Nix is going to the school that made him a “legend” according to some Auburn types.

Nix leaves Auburn after an up-and-down three seasons that intertwined remarkable highs — such as that Oregon game in 2019 and most recently the program’s first win at LSU in 22 years — with maddening lows, including three-interception performances in road losses to Florida in 2019 and South Carolina in 2020, as well as an inefficient outing early this season that saw him get benched in the second half of a comeback win against Georgia State. Still, the Auburn legacy and former five-star prospect finished his career on the Plains as the No. 3 passer in program history, finishing with 7,251 career passing yards. That’s just 48 yards shy of Jason Campbell’s record at No. 2 on the list.

Sad news on the NFL front this weekend. Ryan Kelly missed Saturday night’s game vs New England, staying home to grieve with his wife over the loss of their unborn child.

“Quick, before we get going, I just want to say our thoughts and prayers and our hearts are with Ryan Kelly and his wife going through what they’re going through,” said Patriots center David Andrews.

“First of all, I’d like to extend my sympathy to Ryan and his family. Our hearts go out to him,” added head coach Bill Belichick a short time later.

Heartbreaking. Our deepest sympathy goes out to both Emma and Ryan.

“It’s a blessing,” Diggs said. “I’m happy. That was actually my goal for the season this year. I’m happy I reached it, but I didn’t know that I was going to reach it. It’s just a blessing. I’m truly just happy that I can represent the Star, represent my team and just go out there and give it all I’ve got.”

Diggs still needs four more over the past three games to catch Dick “Night Train” Lane’s all time record of 14, which was remarkably accomplished in a 12 game 1952 season.

Last, Tua busted out the truck stick on the Jets.

Nice flex.

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

Roll Tide.