Daily Archives: November 1, 2012

Sporting News: Alabama dominates in the betting line, too

Alabama is dominating on the field and in the polls, so why not in Las Vegas, too? Sporting News has an article about how the Tide is a constant betting-line favorite.

One the more interesting items in the piece: Las Vegas has had Alabama tabbed as the favorite 36 straight times and 49 of its last 50 games. The only exception: the 2009 SEC Championship Game against Florida, which Alabama won 32-13.

Click here for the article, but we’ve got a small teaser for you:

Las Vegas oddsmaker Ed Salmons has been making college football power ratings and point spreads for decades, and is acknowledged as one of the sharpest bookmakers in town by his colleagues.

He believes the 2012 Alabama Crimson Tide is the most powerful team of his career.

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Tide football coach needs some birthday time, even on Halloween

For any children who rang Nick Saban‘s doorbell on Halloween night looking for treats and nobody answered, the Alabama coach apologizes.

During football season, Wednesday is the only night during the week he gets to eat dinner at home. Since this particular Wednesday also was his birthday, he and his family turned out all the lights, went upstairs, and spent about 30 minutes eating dinner and opening cards and presents.

“Lights out, doorbell ringing, dogs barking — it was something,” Saban said. “Once we ate, we went back downstairs, turned our lights on and started giving out candy again. I felt bad about doing it that way, but it’s the only time of the week we have a family sit-down dinner for 20 minutes.”

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Nick Saban: Devall has earned his increased playing time

Denzel Devall (30) and Quinton Dial bring down Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell. (AP photo by Dave Martin)

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Alabama freshman linebacker Denzel Devall is getting more and more playing time each week, and Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said he has earned it.

Saban said during his weekly radio show Thursday night Devall has athletic ability and has made plays. In Saturday’s 38-7 win over Mississippi State, the native of Bastrop, La., had a quarterback sack, another tackle that resulted in a 13-yard loss and two quarterback hurries.

“Denzell Devall has been a guy that we’ve played a little more,” Saban said. “Now that he has a little more confidence, knowledge, experience, whatever you want to call it, in what to do, we can play him some in nickel situations. He does have some pass rush ability.

“He helped us in the last game and he was active in the last game. We want to continue to use him in a role that he feels comfortable with.”

For the season, Devall has 11 tackles and a fumble recovery.

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Alabama’s AJ McCarron makes finals for Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award

AJ McCarron leads the country in passing efficiency. (AP photo by Danny Johnston)

Alabama’s AJ McCarron has passed his way onto the list of 10 finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.

The award began in 1987, and only one Southeastern Conference quarterback not named Manning has won it — Alabama’s Jay Barker in 1994. Tennessee’s Peyton Manning won it in 1997, followed by brother Eli Manning of Ole Miss in 2003.

This year’s list of finalists has three quarterbacks from the SEC, including McCarron, who has 18 touchdown passes this season, no interceptions and leads the country in passing efficiency. Georgia’s Aaron Murray and Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson made the cut, too.

The 10 finalists
–Matt Barkley, Southern California
–Landry Jones, Oklahoma
–Collin Klein, Kansas State
–EJ Manuel, Florida State
–AJ McCarron, Alabama
–Aaron Murray, Georgia
–Denard Robinson, Michigan
–Geno Smith, West Virginia
–Tyler Tettleton, Ohio
–Tyler Wilson, Arkansas

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Gary Danielson of CBS on Alabama vs. LSU

The kind folks in media relations at CBS have sent along a news release with comments from college football analyst Gary Danielson about the Alabama-LSU game.

Danielson played at Purdue in 1970-72, leading the Boilermakers to a 6-5 record as a senior. He led the Big Ten in passing offense as a junior with 1,467 yards. As a professional, he played with the Detroit Lions (1976-84) and Cleveland Browns (1985-88). His best year was with the Lions in 1980 when he ranked seventh in passing efficiency and led the team to a 9-7 record.

On LSU: “I don’t think it’s about LSU having a bye week or making adjustments, the Tigers just have to play better. They are better than what they’ve shown this year and are not playing up to their potential. They remind me of Georgia going into last week’s game against Florida. LSU will be motivated to play their best game.”

On Tiger Stadium at night: “I don’t think Tiger Stadium will be a factor in the game. I think it’s a false crutch LSU believes to have in their advantage. Alabama is a battle-tested team that has played in numerous big games.”

On Alabama and AJ McCarron: “In the first game last year, whether because of poor field position or because of nerves, AJ McCarron did not play well. He had a couple mental mistakes, a couple sacks where he could have thrown the ball away and a couple passes he could have completed that would have been big plays. I think that game helped him in the long run and there was even a big difference between game one and game two last year. LSU is facing an even better quarterback this game than in the National Championship game when he carved them up.”

On the keys to the game: “LSU’s defensive line has to get something more than an outside pass rush from Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery. The inside guys must get penetration. In the first game last year, they penetrated the line of scrimmage and run game much better than the National Championship game. They just looked alive on the field. In the second game, they were kept off-balance by some good play-calling from Alabama. Can those defensive tackles and linebackers get back to being a disruptive force like they were in the first game?”

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Seattle’s Carroll on Tide vs. NFL team: ‘It wouldn’t even be close’

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll won a pair of national titles at Southern California and says if Alabama played an NFL team, it woudn’t be close. (AP photo by Duane Burleson)

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said recently on Dan Patrick‘s nationally syndicated radio show Alabama could beat a few NFL teams.

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll disagrees.

“The falsehood is to think that could ever take place. It isn’t even close,” Carroll told reporters Wednesday, according to USA Today. “Alabama has a great team, and Nick (Saban) is a fantastic coach. But when you match up the interior lines against a regular NFL team, on either side of the ball, it wouldn’t even be close.”

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Big job Saturday for Alabama’s Fluker, Kouandjio

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — One of the biggest responsibilities Saturday when Alabama faces LSU will fall upon offensive tackles D.J. Fluker and Cyrus Kouandjio.

The Bengal Tigers have a quality defensive line, especially with ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery. They’ve helped LSU rank second nationally in pass efficiency defense and fifth in tackles for loss.

Fluker, a junior, and Kouandjio, a sophomore, often will draw the chore of trying to hold back Mingo and Montgomery.

“I think overall they’ve done a pretty good job all year,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “You can’t expect guys to block every guy, every time, every play. And we certainly know that they’ve been beaten a few times. But at the same time, when you look at their whole body of work this year, both guys have done a really good job of blocking the edges.”

Montgomery, a junior, will line up often against Kouandjio. Montgomery leads LSU in sacks (four) and tackles for loss (nine). Mingo, who is a senior, will draw Fluker often. Mingo is tops in quarterback hurries (nine).

But Saban said stopping the push rush relies on more than Fluker and Kouandjio.

“They are one of the pass-rushing teams in the league,” Saban said. “They’ve got two really good edge rushers. They have really good team speed. Their inside guys can rush as well. Even though they’re bigger, more physical guys, they do have quickness and they can push the pocket.

“When you have edge rushers and you push the pocket in the middle, the quarterback has a hard time stepping up away from that rush. The combination of those things make them a very effective team.”

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These folks are picking LSU over Alabama

How about telling Jesse Williams why you’re not picking Alabama over LSU? (AP photo by Dave Martin)

NCAA.com’s website staff picks college games each week, and for Saturday’s Alabama-LSU game, they’re picking the Bengal Tigers.

NCAA.com has four of its own staff members each pick the winners of games, and a guest picker joins in with his selections. This week, it’s Steve Smith of NBA TV. Smith is a former NBA player who played collegiately at Michigan State.

Smith picks Alabama, but three of the four from NCAA.com are going LSU.

Click here to see their picks.

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Birmingham will host 2014 NCAA women’s gymnastics meet

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — The NCAA announced today Birmingham will host the 2014 women’s gymnastics championships.

The University of Alabama and The Alabama Sports Foundation will serve as co-hosts for the meet, which will be at the BJCC Arena on April 18-20, 2014.

This year’s NCAA women’s gymnastics championships will be at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, Calif. Tide head coach Sarah Patterson‘s team is aiming for its third straight national title.

“We are very excited to have the NCAA Championships return to the state of Alabama in 2014,” Patterson said in a news release. “The Alabama Sports Foundation and the Bruno Event Team have always done a tremendous job with the national events they’ve brought to the area. Each of the Southeastern Conference Gymnastics Championships they’ve hosted in Birmingham have been first-class events both for the fans and the participants and I know this will be no different.

“The attendance we’ve enjoyed in Tuscaloosa, combined with the crowds the SEC Championships have drawn when they’ve been in Birmingham, has been amazing, which is just one of the reasons why I can’t wait to have this competition back in Alabama.”

Since we’re talking gymnastics, here is TideTV’s video of the gymnastics team’s homecoming weekend:

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Alabama vs. LSU: Football’s cool new rivalry

Dre Kirkpatrick (21) celebrates with fans after Alabama’s BCS win over LSU in New Orleans. (Copyright photo by Michael Casagrande)

This is my story for today’s print editions:

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Is Alabama-LSU the cool new college football rivalry?

If a rivalry needs competitiveness, it’s there. Since 2007, they’ve split six games evenly, and four of those were decided by a touchdown or less. A fifth had a nine-point margin.

Part of the aftermath of Alabama’s BCS win over LSU in New Orleans. (Copyright photo by Michael Casagrande)

If a rivalry should decide championships, this one has done it recently. In January, it did so literally, with Alabama winning 21-0 in the BCS National Championship Game. That marked the third time in five seasons one of these two teams won the national title.

This matchup has garnered national attention, too. ESPN has broadcast its popular GameDay program from the site of the Alabama-LSU game the last three times.

“I don’t think there’s any question about these games we’ve played three, four, five years, and it’s got some significance not only on the conference level but the national level,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “People become more and more interested in it, regardless of the league they’re in.”

The rivalry reached its high point last year when they split two meetings. They entered both matchups ranked 1-2 in the polls.

Alabama kept LSU from winning a national championship last year, but LSU kept Alabama from an SEC championship and a perfect record with a win in Tuscaloosa.

“I’m pretty sure they hate us because of what happened last year and stuff like that,” Tide receiver Kevin Norwood said. “I’m pretty sure they have us circled on their calendar and little pictures and stuff up. I’m pretty sure they got some motivation going.”

Norwood added that the Tuscaloosa loss bothers him: :To me, I like to fulfill all my goals, and that’s one we didn’t, so it’s motivation for us.”

But does the heat from the rivalry go much past the most recent meetings?

Alabama and LSU didn’t begin playing each other annually until 1964. Alabama won the first five games and had a streak of 11 straight victories from 1971-81.

The Crimson Tide also had a run of 15 straight trips to Baton Rouge without a loss during 1971-98. LSU won five straight in 2003-07.

Saturday marks the ninth time they’ve matched up when both were in the top 10, but four have come in the last four years, with Alabama winning in 2009 and the two games last season.

“I think the importance of the game is based on the quality of the opponents,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “If that is the start of what will be a great rivalry, it has all the makings.”

For Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones, the rivalry seems new even to him. He said that when he arrived on campus in 2008, LSU wasn’t the biggest target.

“When I first got here, the rivalry really was Florida in ’08 and ’09,” he said. “But now I guess it’s kind of shifted to LSU.”

Miles played at Michigan and served as an assistant coach with the Wolverines, where his biggest rival was Ohio State. He wasn’t willing to compare that rivalry to Alabama-LSU.

“It’s a great rivalry,” he said. “It means so much. It’s an opportunity to take the West, and it will always be that. I think our guys enjoy playing in this game.”

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Defense still rules at Alabama, LSU

Alabama linebacker Trey DePriest (33) and defensive back Deion Belue (13) break up a pass intended for Mississippi State receiver Chad Bumphis (1). (Copyright photo by Gary Cosby Jr. of The Decatur Daily)

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Paul Newberry of The Associated Press wrote a story about how defense still matters at Alabama and LSU, and we’re giving you the link.

Click here to read the whole story, although we’ll give you a taste below:

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — When Eric Reid arrived at LSU, the older players made one thing clear:

He was expected to contribute right away on defense. There was to be no drop-off from the guys who came before him.

Now, he passes it on.

“We tell the freshmen the exact same thing,” said Reid, a junior safety and one of the leaders of the Tigers’ defense. “We don’t want them to use youth as an excuse. You come to practice, practice hard and get the job done.”

The same could be said of top-ranked Alabama.

After last season, the Crimson Tide had six players off its national championship defense — considered one of the best in college football history — selected in the NFL draft. Three of them went in the first round. Another was taken early in the second.

For most programs, that sort of exodus would have led to a major rebuilding job. Not at Alabama (8-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference), which again leads the nation in all four of the major defensive categories, seemingly just as dominant as it was with players such as Mark Barron, Dont’a Hightower and Dre Kirkpatrick.

“I’m not really surprised,” said one of the replacements, linebacker C.J. Mosley. “Great players left last year, but we had players that could fill their roles. So far, we’re getting the job done. It’s all about communication because we’ve got the athletes and we’ve got the players who can play with anybody in the nation.”

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