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Muscle Shoals
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Fort Payne

Tide preps for Vols with win; Tigers mauled by LSU with Rebs on deck

HUNTSVILLE – Things seem normal for Alabama football as the team is again steaming toward a Southeastern Conference West Division title in a season that has sparked speculation this will be Nick Saban’s final as head coach.

Following a 24-21 home win over Arkansas at Bryant-Denny Stadium, the Crimson Tide is clearly in the driver’s seat to win the division and has even re-entered College Football Playoff discussion.

Meanwhile, three straight wins to open the season and the goodwill that accompanied head coach Hugh Freeze in his first year at Auburn has been kneecapped by three straight losses in conference action. 

This week, No. 11 Alabama (6-1 overall, 4-0 in the SEC) is again home against archrival No. 17 Tennessee (5-1, 2-1 CBS 2:30 p.m.), while Auburn (3-3, 0-3) entertains No. 13 Mississippi (5-1, 2-1 TV ESPN 6 p.m.).

In Tuscaloosa, the Tide escaped despite scoring just three points in the second half on a 30-yard field goal from Will Reichard that made it 24-6. But Alabama held off the Razorbacks.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Arkansas’ team,” Saban said. “I mean, LSU beat them by three points, Ole Miss beat them by a touchdown on the road. This is not the kind of team that you all think they are. They’re a good team, and that quarterback (K.J. Jefferson) is a handful. When a quarterback can take a major college football player and sling him off like a gnat on a cow’s ass, I mean, that was one of the most impressive plays I’ve ever seen a player make.

“But we said one gets a guy, you’ve got to hold on, you’ve got to hang on and we’ve got to clean him up. And we didn’t clean him up. We made a couple mental errors on defense in some of those drives that let them get back in the game, too. We run a stunt the wrong way, quarterback runs for 25 yards on a big play on second and Long. But we learn from all these things.”

Meanwhile, In Baton Rouge, LSU scored in just four plays that covered 75 yards on the game’s first series, Auburn false started twice on the ensuing possession, punted after three downs and everybody could’ve gone home.

LSU scored on its first four possessions in the 48-18 win and posted its most points ever against Auburn. LSU led in total yardage 563-293.

“They beat us every way that you could. We had no answers defensively for them,” Freeze said. “I didn’t think (Auburn players) fought as hard (as previously), and that’s something I gotta own. It’s my job to get them to play hard. 

“I don’t know if we could’ve won the game, but we certainly could have played better.”

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