Calvin Ridley

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Alabama voted by media as favorite to win SEC

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I didn’t see this one coming.  Talk about being blindsided.

One day after putting the wraps on its annual media days shindig, the SEC released the media’s picks for conference champion and predicted order of finish.  And, to the surprise of absolutely no one, the Alabama Crimson Tide, playoff participants in each of the first three years of the new system to determine a national champion, is the overwhelming favorite to claim yet another league championship.

‘Bama earned 217 points from the media when polled as to this year’s conference champ.  Next closest?  Auburn with 11, followed by Georgia’s six points and three each for Florida and LSU.  Showing that the media has a sense of humor and doesn’t take these preseason honors too seriously, even Vanderbilt was the recipient of a point.

Six times since 1992, the media has correctly picked the eventual champion in the preseason vote.  Two of those, though, came the last three years.

While ‘Bama was an overwhelming title choice, they weren’t a unanimous selection to win the West.  They did, however, reel in 225 first-place votes; Auburn (13), LSU (four) and Arkansas (one) were the only others to do so.

In the East Division, Georgia’s 138 first-place votes topped Florida’s 96.  South Carolina with five and Tennessee with three were the others to garner first-place votes in that division.

In addition to the predicted order of finish, the conference also released its Preseason Media Days All-SEC Teams. Alabama had the most first-team All-SEC selections with 10, which is a new record for this particular preseason squad.

Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama), Calvin Ridley (Alabama) and Derrius Guice (LSU) received the most votes amongst individual players.

Alabama adds former UAB QB as graduate assistant

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Alabama has added one more member to its coaching staff. Former UAB quarterback Mike Miller has joined the staff as a graduate assistant, according to a report from Football Scoop. Miller updated his private Twitter account bio to say he will be working with the quarterbacks and wide receivers at Alabama.

Miller will step into a good spot on the Alabama coaching staff as he will get to work with Jalen Hurts, Alabama’s rising star quarterback from the 2016 season, and a healthy crop of wide receivers including Calvin Ridley. Helping Hurts to take the next steps in his development will be a major task for Miller and is one that could ensure Alabama is right back in the thick of the national title conversation again next fall. Ridley could be one of the top receivers in the SEC.

Miller spent the 2016 season coaching Charlotte Christian School in North Carolina and spent a brief time with Clemson as a coach after UAB suspended its football program following the 2014 season.

Miller will fill the void briefly filled by former Florida State and West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett. Alabama added Trickett as a graduate assistant earlier in the offseason, but he followed Lane Kiffin to FAU to take a job as a tight ends coach.

Former five-star Alabama DB moving on to Ohio State

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After beginning his collegiate playing career at one FBS juggernaut, Kendall Sheffield will continue the next phase of it at another.

In a commitment shared with ESPN.com Tuesday, Sheffield confirmed that he will be transferring to Ohio State to play for the Buckeyes.  The cornerback chose over Texas A&M.

“After a great season at Blinn College, and an exciting recruiting process, I have decided to finish my collegiate career at The Ohio State University,” Sheffield said. “I am excited to join Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes, and look forward to helping Buckeye Nation return to the College Football Playoff.”

Sheffield was a five-star member of Alabama’s 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 3 player in the state of Texas and the No. 20 player on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Just one signee in the Crimson Tide’s top-ranked class that year was rated higher — wide receiver Calvin Ridley.

Even as he was working as a second-team corner during summer camp, Sheffield opted to transfer from ‘Bama last August after redshirting as a true freshman.  He spent the 2016 season at Blinn Junior College, and is rated as the No. 4 JUCO recruit in the country.

Sheffield will have three years of eligibility remaining.

CFT Previews & Predictions: Alabama-Clemson Tale of the Tape

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WHO
No. 1 Alabama (14-0) vs. No. 2 Clemson (13-1)

WHAT
The College Football Playoff championship game, presented by AT&T

WHEN
8:00 p.m. ET

WHERE
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida

HEAD COACHES
Alabama’s Nick Saban (114-18 in 10 seasons with the Crimson Tide, 205-60-1 overall; five national championships)
Clemson’s Dabo Swinney (88-28 in nine seasons with the Tigers)

STATISTICAL LEADERS
Alabama
Passing: Jalen Hurts, 227-351 (64.7%), 2,249 yards, 22 touchdowns, nine interceptions
Rushing: Damien Harris, 1,013 yards; Hurts, 12 touchdowns
Receiving: Calvin Ridley, 67 receptions; ArDarius Stewart, 852 yards, eight touchdowns
Punt returns: Trevon Diggs, 10 yards per on 13 returns; Eddie Jackson (injured, won’t play), 23 yards per on 11 returns, two touchdowns
Kick returns: Diggs. 23.7 yards per on seven returns
Punting: J.K. Scott, 47.4 yards per, 20 of 54 inside 20
Kicking: Adam Griffith, 20-27 field goals, long of 48; 62-63 extra points
Tackles: Reuben Foster, 103
Tackles for loss: Ryan Anderson, 17
Sacks: Jonathan Allen, 9.5
QB Hits: Allen, 15
Interceptions: Minkah Fitzpatrick, six
Passes breakups: Anthony Averett, 14

Clemson
Passing: Deshaun Watson, 352-523 (67.3%), 4,173 yards, 38 touchdowns, 17 interceptions
Rushing: Wayne Gallman, 1,087 yards, 16 touchdowns
Receiving: Mike Williams, 90 receptions, 1,267 yards, 10 touchdowns
Punt returns: Ray-Ray McCloud, 8.4 per on 21 returns
Kick returns: Artavis Scott, 22.9 per on 20 returns
Punting: Andy Teasdall, 38 yards per, 21 of 53 inside 20
Kicking: Greg Huegel, 14-19 field goals, long of 48; 66-68 extra points
Tackles: Ben Boulware, 121
Tackles for loss: Carlos Watkins, 12.5
Sacks: Watkins, 10.5
Interceptions: Jadar Johnson, five
Passes breakups: Cordrea Tankersley, 10

STATISTICAL MATCHUPS
Alabama’s 11th-ranked rush offense (246.7 ypg) vs. Clemson’s 19th-ranked run defense (123.1 ypg)
CU’s 62nd-ranked rush offense (175.4 ypg) vs. UA’s top-ranked run defense (62 ypg)
UA’s 81st-ranked pass offense (214.2 yp) vs. CU’s 17th-ranked pass defense (183.8 ypg)
CU’s 7th-ranked pass offense (327.8 ypg) vs. UA’s 14th-ranked pass defense (182 ypg)
UA’s 15th-ranked scoring offense (39.4 ppg) vs. CU’s 7th-ranked scoring defense (17.1 ppg)
CU’s 13th-ranked scoring offense (39.5 ppg) vs. UA’s top-ranked scoring defense (11.4 ppg)

COMMON OPPONENTS
Auburn
Clemson won 19-13 in Auburn Sept. 3, Alabama won 30-12 in Tuscaloosa Nov. 26.

LOSSES
Alabama: N/A
Clemson: 43-42 to No. 23 Pittsburgh (8-5) in Clemson Nov. 12

PORTFOLIO
Wins vs. bowl teams: Alabama 12, Clemson 10
Wins vs. current CFP Top 25 teams: UA 6, CU 5
Wins in true road games: UA 4, CU 5
Wins by 10-plus points: UA 13, CU 7

THE BOVADA.LV LINE
Clemson, +6 (opened +6½)
Over/under, 51

THE PREDICTIONS
Zach Barnett
Here’s one thing I know: Tide-Tigers II won’t be as high scoring as the last time around. Alabama — both offense and defense — won’t allow it. And here’s what I think: I think Alabama is just too far ahead of the rest of the country that even a marked deficit at quarterback can’t overcome the Tide’s advantages elsewhere. The defense is too good, the rest of the offense is too good, and Bo Scarborough is too, well, Bo Scarborough.
Alabama 21, Clemson 17

Bryan Fisher
I think this year’s rematch should be just as close of a game as last season’s version, with Alabama squeaking out another close victory over Clemson in slightly lower scoring fashion. Turnovers will play a huge role in this one and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Crimson Tide’s defense finds the end zone at least once to make up for what should be a grind-it-out type of night for their offense. The Tigers defense plays heroically throughout, but ultimately it’s Nick Saban holding up the trophy in the end.
Alabama 31, Clemson 27

Kevin McGuire
The biggest question mark for this game is just what to expect from Alabama’s offense given the bizarre staff shakeup that forced Lane Kiffin on his way to his new job and inserted Steve Sarkisian to call plays, which has never particularly been his strong suit. But who am I to question Nick Saban? It all comes back to winning the rematch though, where Clemson is coming off an impressive shelling of Ohio State and looks like a true threat to Alabama, especially if the Tide is a mixed bag of ineptitude on offense with a freshman quarterback. But Deshaun Watson will have to play the same kind of game he did a year ago, and I’m not so sure that will be possible. Fool Alabama once, it happens. Do it twice in a row? I’m not as confident that is possible.
Alabama 26, Clemson 24

John Taylor
I’m truly torn on this one.  On the one hand you have a Brent Venables-coached Clemson defense that shut out Ohio State and its veteran quarterback, J.T. Barrett, going up against a true freshman quarterback in Alabama’s Jalen Hurts — and with a new playcaller no less. On the other, you have an Alabama defense that, in addition to being ranked No. 1 in myriad statistical categories, is in the Top 15 nationally in interceptions with 16 — six of which were returned for touchdowns — matched up with a quarterback in Deshaun Watson whose 17 picks this season are tied for second at the FBS level.  In the end I’m going to go against the grain and with Venables and Watson denying Nick Saban his Bear Bryant-tying title.  Hell, The Nicktator says (winkwink nudgenudgeClemson’s the best team; who am I to argue with the greatest college coach of this generation?
Clemson 27, Alabama 23

Jalen Hurts and dominant defense have Alabama on cruise control vs. Miss. State

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Mississippi State may have felt pretty good about a win last week, but they are no match for thje top-ranked team in the country this afternoon in Tuscaloosa. No. 1 Alabama is dominating the Bulldogs, 30-0, after one half of play.

Jalen Hurts has tossed two touchdowns in the half, one to ArDarius Stewart (who is already over 100 receiving yards) and another to Calvin Ridley. Just for good measure, Hurts has also rushed for a touchdown to go with his 210 passing yards and 81 rushing yards. It has been more than enough offense for the Crimson Tide as the defense continues to clamp down on its opponents. Mississippi State has converted just three of nine third down plays, and Alabama is outgaining Mississippi State by over 200 yards.

It’s going to be a long second half for the Bulldogs, who are likely to be placed on very thin ice for bowl eligibility. Alabama can wrap up the SEC West with a win today and an Auburn loss.