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Jumbo Package: Tide ranked 10th headed to Ole Miss

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Mississippi State v Alabama Photo by Brandon Sumrall/Getty Images

Happy Monday, everyone. Alabama remains in the top 10 after its second heartbreaking road loss of the season.

The loss to LSU had Alabama falling from No. 6 to No. 10 while Clemson’s 35-14 loss at Notre Dame sent the Tigers plummeting from No. 5 to No. 12. The win also put the Fighting Irish back into the AP Top 25 for the first time since September, reentering the poll at No. 20. All the shakeup at the top provided the opportunity for TCU, now 9-0 after a win against Texas Tech, to crash the top five in a move from No. 7 to No. 4. The Horned Frogs’ next opponent, Texas, made a return to the top 25 after its win at Kansas State, checking in at No. 18.

The takes are everywhere, and about what you would expect.

Kelly and this LSU team now have the inside track to represent the SEC West in the SEC Championship Game and Kelly deserves credit for transforming the culture at LSU. The Tigers are a mentally tough football team and did not commit any of the self-destructive mistakes that doomed Ed Orgeron’s tenure or even earlier games this season against Florida State and Tennessee. LSU had multiple chances to fold in this game – starting with the first drive where Alabama drove the length of the field – but always answered. The Tigers intercepted Bryce Young in the end zone on the first drive, held Alabama to field goals on back-to-back drives in the second quarter, overcame deficits of 9-7, 15-14, and 21-17 in the second half, and then got the win in overtime.

Quality offenses have exposed the defense. The offense has lacked a big-play receiver all year, asking Young to do everything. Alabama has been far too mistake-prone all season, a team that commits stupid penalties at the wrong times. There were nine infractions for 92 yards on Saturday and a whopping 17 for 130 yards in the loss at Tennessee.

The result is this underwhelming season that could result in a third-place finish in the SEC West if Alabama can’t win at Ole Miss on Saturday. Imagine that sentence in August or early September? Then again, this season hasn’t played out how anyone, even the most die-hard Alabama haters, could have expected.

Maybe it was too much to ask for Jermaine Burton to be another savior like Williams. But remove Burton from the equation (and fellow transfer Tyler Harrell) and it’s a wonder that among Isaiah Bond, Ja’Corey Brooks, JoJo Earle, Traeshon Holden and Kobe Prentice, no one has been capable of becoming a playmaker. What’s more, they’ve been unreliable as a team, with 21 dropped passes — fifth most among Power 5 schools.

Jahmyr Gibbs, a running back, quickly became Young’s most reliable receiver. But for as good and versatile as Gibbs has been, along with his backup Jase McClellan, neither has proven to be the kind of between-the-tackles runner Alabama desperately needs. Roydell Williams, who does run with power, has only 38 carries this season. As a team, 22.9% of Alabama’s rushes have gone for zero or negative yards.

As far as the “dynasty” goes, I have maintained the unpopular opinion for some time that Alabama had a dynasty from 2009 to 2012. Since then, they have won three national titles in what will now be ten seasons. You could perhaps make an argument for a second dynasty with three titles in six seasons from 2015 to 2020, but since the 2012 season I’ve mostly seen a perennial contender that had a good chance to win a national title in any season. It turned out that the 2020 team kind of came out of nowhere to be the most dominant team in memory, but that hasn’t been the norm for some time.

This season was no different. Alabama has absolutely made way too many mistakes of all kinds and some roster shortcomings have been exposed. The mistakes cost them a game against LSU that it’s fair to say that Alabama “should” have won, whatever that means. They outgained the Tigers by 100 yards and earned four red zone trips in regulation to LSU’s three. Alas, LSU managed 17 points on those trips and Alabama got only 12.

The worst part is that the biggest mistakes in the game were made by Nick Saban on the two point calls and Bryce Young with that terrible no look interception on second and goal. Had Alabama found the end zone on that first drive, things may have looked very different. In hindsight, even a field goal would have been huge. Both men took full responsibility for their roles after the loss. It’s just been that kind of season.

Last, in NFL news, King Henry broke Earl Campbell’s franchise touchdown record...

... and Tua continues to do his thing. His last two weeks have produced his two highest passer rating marks. This week he threw for 302 yards, including five passes for 85 yards to Jaylen Waddle.

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

Roll Tide.