|December 08, 2013||Alabama coach Nick Saban's final ballot in USA Today coaches poll|
|December 07, 2013||Alabama coach Nick Saban talks Iron Bowl, endorses Auburn for BCS championship game|
|December 05, 2013||Alabama OC Doug Nussmeier one of front-runners for Washington head coach search (report)|
|December 04, 2013||Alabama junior guard Levi Randolph scores career-high in win over North Florida|
|December 04, 2013||Alabama QB AJ McCarron a finalist for Walter Camp Player of the Year|
|December 02, 2013||Alabama lands 5-star safety Laurence 'Hootie' Jones|
|December 01, 2013||Alabama falls to No. 4 in BCS standings|
|November 30, 2013||Beat writer breakdown, Day 6: Ryan Black and I pick our Iron Bowl winner|
|November 29, 2013||Seven reasons why Alabama will win the Iron Bowl|
|November 29, 2013||Beat writer breakdown, Day 5: Ryan Black and I talk unknown players who could have a big impact o...|
TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama coach Nick Saban gave in-state rival Auburn the ultimate endorsement during his appearance on ESPN’s College GameDay.
When asked if a one-loss Auburn should play in the BCS national championship game, Saban made a compelling case for the Tigers.
“Well, I really do believe that since Auburn beat us, if they win the SEC Championship Game, they certainly deserve the opportunity to play in the national championship game. That’s what I think,” Saban said. “That’s not to take anything away from anyone else, but that’s just how I feel relative to our circumstance in our league.”
Saban made the trip to Indianapolis for a few segments on the show. He broke down the SEC championship, but didn’t pick a winner.
Saban was also asked if there was anything he’d do differently in the Iron Bowl if given the chance.
“Well I think when you create difficult situations for yourself in circumstances in the game, it makes for really difficult decisions as a coach,” Saban said. “Obviously when those things don’t work, you wish you did something else. But I’m very proud of the way our team competed and improved this year. We didn’t play the way we wanted to in the second half of the game that was a personification of lack of attention to detail and discipline to execute. I think there’s a lot of lessons for our team to learn from that.”
TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama men’s basketball rebounded from its two-game skid with a 76-48 thumping of North Florida on Wednesday in front of a sparse crowd in Coleman Coliseum.
Junior guard Levi Randolph paced the Crimson Tide with a career-high 20 points while true freshman Jimmie Taylor nearly had double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds.
The Tide opened the game with an 11-0 run and never let up.
“Proud of the effort our guys gave today,” Tide coach Anthony Grant said. “I thought we really set the tone from a defensive standpoint with the energy we played with to begin the game. We were able to stretch the lead out a little bit, and in the second half, I thought our guys came out with great energy and great focus.”
The Tide found its shooting range early and remained hot. The Tide shot 47.4 percent (9-19) from three-point range while holding North Florida to 25 percent (5-20) from behind the arc. Randolph nailed three of the three-pointers.
“We’ve just been talking in practice and coach has been preaching that when we have open shots, don’t turn them down,” Randolph said.
Alabama was able to pound North Florida inside as well with 32 points in the paint and a 45-37 rebounding advantage.
“Rebounding wise, I thought we did a really good job in the second half of coming up with 50-50 balls and rebounding the ball, which allowed us to get out in transition,” Grant said.
Junior forward Nick Jacobs put in 13 points while senior guard Trevor Releford added 10.
In his first career start for the Tide, Algie Key scored six points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out four assists. It was Key’s 21st birthday, but that wasn’t the reason he earned the start.
Grant said Key replaced guard Retin Obasohan because Obasohan is recovering from an ankle injury.
Alabama (4-3) travels to Tampa, Fla. Saturday to face South Florida at 8 p.m. CT on ESPNU. The Tide will return home Saturday, Dec. 14 to host Charleston Southern at 7:30 p.m. CT.
Editor’s Note: Each week, the Crimson Tide Extra blog has five questions with the beat writer of Alabama’s opponents. This week, we tackled one question each day with Auburn beat writer Ryan Black (Columbus Ledger-Enquirer) and Alabama beat writer Marq Burnett. It ends today with each giving their prediction on how the Iron Bowl will play out.
Marq Burnett: We’ve broken this matchup down from every angle, but now the talk must end. Who wins, why and what's the score?
Ryan Black: I have been going back-and-forth on this all week.
Alabama has the better team, but Auburn has shown incredible progress in Year 1 of Gus Malzahn's tenure, not to mention owning a game-changing quarterback in Nick Marshall who has proven he's not fazed by anything.
It would register as a shock if this game isn't close late in the fourth quarter. The home crowd will be a definite advantage for Auburn, but not quite big enough.
The Tide escapes with a narrow, nail-biting victory in an Iron Bowl that lives up to the hype. Alabama 30, Auburn 27
Black: It's been a great week of discussion, but all that's really left now is the game itself. So how do you see this year's Iron Bowl playing out?
Burnett: It has been fun breaking this one down. I expect a great game from both teams and an electric atmosphere in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
While anything can happen in a rivalry like this, the better team always seems to find a way to win and this year, Alabama is the better team.
Alabama will contain Auburn's rushing attack, and Nick Marshall won't be able to make enough plays passing the ball. Also, Auburn's defense will struggle to stop Alabama's offense. Alabama 34, Auburn 17
Editor’s Note: Each week, the Crimson Tide Extra blog has five questions with the beat writer of Alabama’s opponents. This week, we’ll tackle one question each day with Auburn beat writer Ryan Black (Columbus Ledger-Enquirer) and Alabama beat writer Marq Burnett. It will run through Saturday, when each will give their prediction on this year’s Iron Bowl.
Marq Burnett: Everyone knows who the stars are in this matchup. Who is one offensive and one defensive player for Auburn that could make a huge impact in this game?
Ryan Black: It appears you've boxed me into a bit of a corner on this question, Marq, but I'll try to fight my way out. My take: The players that will make, as you called it, "a huge impact" Saturday are the players pretty much everyone knows about. You know, the "usual suspects" like Nick Marshall, Tre Mason and Dee Ford. But I'll provide a pair of players who might be able to make a difference for the Tigers, even if their contributions aren't nearly as consistent as the others I've already named.
Offensively, freshman receiver Marcus Davis hasn't put up crazy numbers this season; he has only 191 yards and a touchdown on 22 catches, after all. However, he has shown a knack for stepping up in big moments. Just go back and watch the game-winning drives against Mississippi State and Texas A&M this season, and you'll see that Davis plays a prominent role on both possessions. Something tells me if the Tigers are in need of a game-winning drive Saturday, Marshall won't hesitate to look to his first-year pass-catcher once more.
On defense, I'll go with Jonathon Mincy. It's easy to get overlooked in Auburn's secondary, what with fellow starting corner Chris Davis leading the team in tackles with 55 (and making spectacular plays on special teams, too) and "Star" Robenson Therezie tops among the Tigers in pickoffs this year with four. And what's more, he didn't have a tackle in his last outing, against his home-state Georgia Bulldogs. He'll make sure that doesn't happen two games in a row come Saturday, and don't be surprised if he's able to cause a turnover in some fashion, be it a forced fumble or an interception.
Black: The marquee players for both teams are well-established by now. But if an "unknown," relatively speaking, ends up being the difference in this game, which players do you believe that would be for the Crimson Tide? Name one offensive player and one defender, as well as your short reasoning why Saturday could be a "breakout" performance for each.
Burnett: While he's not completely unknown, on offense, I have to go with true freshman tight end O.J. Howard. Howard is a matchup nightmare. He's listed at 6-foot-6, 237-pounds and has blazing speed. Against LSU, he caught a short crossing route from quarterback AJ McCarron, turned upfield and outran every LSU defensive back for a 52-yard touchdown. Alabama hasn't had a player that created some many matchup problems at the tight end position during Nick Saban's tenure. Howard is truly a game-changer.
Defensively, I can't go with one player. Alabama's entire defensive line is relative unknown as guys like C.J. Mosley, HaHa Clinton-Dix and Landon Collins receive all the headlines. But the defensive line will be key.
If the line is able to get push upfront, it will allow Alabama's linebackers to make plays. Alabama's entire defense is built around controlling the line of scrimmage and that will be of the utmost importance against Auburn.