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Jumbo Package: Alabama Ranked 6th, Tennessee 1st in the first CFP rankings

The sky is falling!!

Alabama v LSU Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

First up, while the Crimson Tide’s football team may be on a voodoo-stricken crash course to another top-10 matchup, we have more important things happening within the University:

Alabama’s soccer team continues to blast everyone in their way en route to a #3 overall ranking. A shutout win over Mississippi State moves them on to the SEC semifinals where they will face the winner of Arkansas and Vandy on Thursday at 5:00 on the SEC Network. Tune in and support!

The Alabama defense gave goalkeeper McKinley Crone an easy day to record her 11th shutout of the season. The Bulldogs had 11 shots, with only three coming on goal. Part of it was that the Alabama offense kept the ball out of their side of the field but when the Bulldogs were in their offensive zone they didn’t get many open runs.

The second half saw the Bulldogs spend more time in its offensive zone, with getting eight shots but failed to do anything with their shots as Crone recorded three saves.

OK, back to football.

There are still a lot of games to be played and matchups that will be decided on the field, but with four weeks left in the regular season, Alabama now knows where it stands with the College Football Playoff Committee.

In the initial rankings for the 2022 season, the Crimson Tide was ranked sixth. In order, Tennessee, Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson and Michigan were ranked ahead of the Crimson Tide with the Volunteers coming in at No. 1 in the CFP rankings for the first time in program history.

The Crimson Tide is the highest rated one-loss team by the committee, ahead of undefeated TCU. CFP Committee Chairman Boo Corrigan was asked why Alabama was ahead of the Horned Frogs. He said the committee was looking for a team well-balanced on both sides of the ball.

“If you look at Alabama in the wins against Mississippi State, at Arkansas, at Texas, and obivously the three-point loss at Tennessee, as a committee, we decided to put Alabama sixth and TCU seventh,” Corrigan said during Tuesday night’s ranking show on ESPN.

You’re not young enough to have forgotten comedian Rodney Dangerfield, right? He got no respect, just like the Horned Frogs, who despite their undefeated record and two victories over current top-25 teams find themselves trailing the one-loss Crimson Tide.

Why? Corrigan served up this number when asked: “We are looking for a balanced team—offense and defense. They’ve (TCU) gotten behind in some games. They’ve been able to come back.”

Corrigan is basically saying that TCU has shown its weakness by falling behind several times. It’s a positive that Sonny Dykes’s team has rallied, sure, but it’s a pretty big negative that it had to rally.

Of course, there is one problem: Alabama had to also rally in a game at Texas, and then Alabama didn’t have enough juice to rally and beat Tennessee.

While these CFP chairman gigs are really no-win situations, this comment was a bit head scratching.

The CFP weekly spectacle has begun, and this time they are starting off with some gaudy orange all the way up at #1. Alabama is 6th as the highest rated 1-loss team. There’s already plenty of discussion about TCU deserving that spot... But it doesn’t really matter. Win out, and the Tide makes the playoffs. Lose another, and they’re most likely out.

Assuming Alabama does just that (including the SEC Championship), the interesting dynamic will be what happens with Georgia/Tennessee. If the Bulldogs win, you’ll essentially have three one-loss teams whose only losses are to each other in a rock-paper-scissors win record. Want to see the nation melt down again? Put THREE SEC teams in the playoffs.

The No. 3 Tennessee Volunteers (8-0, 4-0 SEC) will take on the top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (8-0, 5-0) in a pivotal SEC matchup Saturday at Sanford Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS). Below, we look at Tennessee vs. Georgia odds from Tipico Sportsbook; check back for all our college football picks and predictions.

The Volunteers are coming off an impressive 44-6 victory over Kentucky as they covered as 10-point favorites at home. Saturday’s road matchup with Georgia will be Tennessee’s 1st road game since a 40-13 road win over LSU on Oct. 8.

The Bulldogs are coming off a 44-20 win over Florida, but failed to cover as 23.5-point favorites. Georgia’s defense has yet to allow more than 22 points to an opponent this season, so it will be interesting to see how it performs against Tennessee’s dynamic offense.

And boy do we get our answers this week. Interestingly, this is Tennessee’s first road game in nearly a month, so seeing how they maintain their intensity outside of friendly puke-flavored confines will tell us a lot about them.

For what it’s worth, despite the Volunteers being the media darlings of the country, the new news, and the #1 CFP team, Georgia is still favored by 8 points.

Meanwhile, Alabama has to take care of business against and LSU team that’s suddenly made it up into the top 10 with Arizona State transfer QB Jayden Daniels at the helm of the offense:

But on Saturday night in Baton Rouge, La., the sixth-ranked Crimson Tide will compete against the league’s top running quarterback, LSU’s Jayden Daniels. The Arizona State transfer has more rushing yards than any other SEC quarterback with 524 and his 65.5 yards on the ground per game is the fourth-best average in the nation among players at his position.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban said Daniels is one of the most productive quarterbacks in the country because of his ability to run the ball in addition to his effectiveness as a passer. Being a true dual threat creates headaches for defenses, which Saban mentioned this week.

“I think it’s very challenging to play against quarterbacks who are dual-threat-type of guys, and this is obviously going to be a big challenge for us,” Saban said.

“I think that it’s something where the emphasis has to be on all 11 guys really doing what they need to do, whether it’s pass rush lanes, whether it’s how you cover people, keeping contain of the quarterback, keep him in the pocket. Even when he steps up, you can retrace the rush, so there’s a lot of elements to doing this.

“You just can’t rush and think you’re going to get a sack and get pushed by the quarterback and then he’s going to have lanes to run in. So all of these things are going to be real points of emphasis for us all week long so that we have a chance to contain a guy that’s a very good passer but he can also beat you with his feet.”

Admittedly, I really didn’t think LSU was going to be a tough team in year 1 of Brian Kelly’s regime. I thought there would be too much roster retooling for a year or two before he really got them back to being contenders. I was wrong, and the Tigers are very, very dangerous.

If Alabama survives them in Death Valley this weekend, I’ll feel very good about the Tide’s chances the rest of the season.

Much is made of the home field advantage, particularly in Baton Rouge.

But Ekiyor pointed out, “I think we’ve had a lot of experience just within the last two years of hostile environments and having to deal with them. I think this group is just pretty much as well-equipped for it as anybody in the country. So just continue to focus on our communication, practicing with crowd noise, operating with hand signals and things of that nature, we’re kind of used to it now. We’ve got a system in place, and I think we’re well-equipped and ready for it.

We’re looking forward to the challenge and handling the crowd, but we’re just focused on our preparation and making sure the crowd isn’t a factor.”

Experience in loud stadiums? Yes.

Track record of performing well in them? Not as much.

At least, not to the standard of previous Alabama football squads. For whatever reason, the 2021-2022 rendition of the Tide just hasn’t dealt with opposing stadiums well.

Earlier in Saban’s tenure, it felt like we saw the opposite. The Tide usually came out and crushed opposing fans’ hopes and dreams, but would sometimes struggle with living up to their own fan’s expectations.

Obviously, this is all anecdotal, but it feels accurate. I’d love to know what Nick Saban actually thinks about it (I know he’d minimize if anyone asked him).

“So, I’ve perfected the gameday routine,” she said. “It’s actually becoming problematic as I get older because it’s so unhealthy.”

She said her current routine began when she moved to Washington D.C., where she learned she would no longer be surrounded by college football fans with whom she could share the experience.

“I just assumed, growing up in the South, that everybody got up on Saturdays and watched college football,” she said. “They don’t, and I learned that when I moved to Washington and people tried to make plans at 3:30 on a Saturday, and I was like, ‘No, that’s kickoff.’

On Saturdays, she keeps it simple enough.

“I wake up, I get Chick-fil-A, and I watch ‘College GameDay,’” she said. “And I do that every single Saturday, and I’m convinced if I don’t do it, then I will somehow jinx the team.”

Good stuff. Keep repping the Crimson Tide at the pinnacle of the nation’s media for us, Kaitlan.

Roll Tide!