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(Ed. Note: the following is what I wrote for our tailgate blog. It has been modified slightly to remove names and content specific to that blog)

On April 4, 1865, Gen. John T. Croxton and his cavalry brigade of the Union’s Army of the Cumberland, raided, seized, and burned Tuscaloosa and the campus of the University of Alabama. There are only a few buildings, including the President’s Mansion, that still stand from this horrific event. Just five days before Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House and within the last months of active fighting in the War Between the States, the full effect of the horrors of that war were felt in Tuscaloosa.

What, you ask, does this have to do with a football game? Two things, if you want to know the truth: First, there has not been an event in Tuscaloosa in the span of 144 years since that tragic affair bigger than what will happen this weekend and second, we will have more than old men and boys to defend against the invaders this time.

The game this weekend is the culmination of thirteen years of misery and the slow return to glory. This is the type of game that everyone dreams of.

So here we are, our team has sat atop the polls all season, the respect that has been denied for so long has finally returned, and we have returned to our rightful place among the nation’s elite. The talk of conference and national championships is now more than just talk. It is all right here in front of us, ripe for the picking. But at least for now, all that lies in front of us is LSU.

The glorious warrior-poets of the Crimson Tide will battle the fighting Tigahs of LSU this weekend in Bryant-Denny Stadium at 2:30 in a game broadcast nationally by CBS. On the line is not only our pride, the pride of our coach, and our #3 national ranking, but a guaranteed birth in the SEC Championship game, a chance to take our unblemished record into the final three weeks of the season, and a continued march toward a 13th national championship.

I’m certain there are other games on television  but honestly, I just don’t care. There is only one game this weekend.

Alright folks, you know what you have to do. This is the perfect storm of football and tailgating. Great weather (clear with highs in the low 70’s), lots of great food and fun, and the biggest football game in the country between two great teams. This, my friends, is what it’s all about. By the time this game ends under the lights of Bryant-Denny, the emphatic statement that we are back will have been made.

I’ll see you on the Quad! Roll Tide Roll!

I’ll close with this (just in case you weren’t fired up already)

They say this is the loudest Bryant-Denny has ever been. Let’s prove them wrong.

When it comes to Alabama, I’m an unabashed glass-half-full guy. So, with all the hand wringing about the passing game, which in reality saw McElroy improve in  the contest against the Vols in completion percentage (62% vs. 50%), interceptions (0 vs. 2), and passes to Julio (7 vs. 0) , from his previous performance against the Cocks, I thought I’d take a look at how the oft lamented kickoff coverage unit did.

I’m not exactly sure of the metric you use to guage such things but from my observation there has been improvement in this area. Tennessee did not appear to make any “big” returns (nor have they really all year), but a look at the stats shows that they averaged 28.4 yards on 5 returns with a long return of 33 yards. More importantly their best starting field position after a kickoff return was on their own 37 yard line (in the 3rd quarter) which ironically came on their shortest return (24 yards).

The only time Tennessee began a drive in Alabama territory was on the fumble recovery in the 4th quarter.

Dare I suggest that this is an area that has seen improvement over the course of the season?

Something you thought you’d never hear: ESPN’s College Gameday has opted to broadcast live from Colorado Springs, Colorado for the Air Force vs. Army game.

I heard this was part of something called the “Armed Forces Week” promotion. Don’t get me wrong. I love the armed forces but this just isn’t good television.

Sure, I’m biased, but on a really dull weekend in college football, a matchup between two top ten teams in the heart of the football crazy south, in a location that ESPN hasn’t been to and won’t have another option to this year, just seems a little hard to pass up.

I guess when you’re the only game in town you can play by your own rules.

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