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Football preview: Alabama heads to Ole Miss, Auburn welcomes Texas A&M, UAB faces North Texas

Four points.

That’s the difference between the Alabama football team possibly being undefeated on the road this season and being 2-2 away from Bryant-Denny Stadium.

“We’ve had four games that have come down basically to the last play of the game,” Nick Saban said this week. “We won two of them, we lost two of them by a total of four points and we didn’t execute down the stretch the way we need to.

“Certainly, we need to do a better job of that,” the coach continued. “It’s a challenge for all of us to have pride. We’re going to play a good team this week, and I’m sure they’re going to want to put up on their mantle, we beat Alabama, too.”

Coming off last week’s 32-31 overtime loss at LSU, the Crimson Tide (7-2, 4-2) visits Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss (8-1, 4-1) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on CBS. Alabama is No. 9 in the College Football Playoff ranking and Mississippi is No. 11.

Auburn’s Robby Ashford (9) jumps over a Mississippi State defender during last week’s game, which ended in an overtime loss for the Tigers. This week brings the Texas A&M Aggies, which have been having some troubles of their own, to Jordan-Hare Stadium. (Todd Van Emst / AU Athletics)

Auburn is set to play its second game under interim coach Carnell Williams, who was proud of how his squad battled in its 39-33 overtime loss to Mississippi State.

“You’ve got to think at halftime, down 24-6 and to still hear how those guys were coming together and how they just continued to believe they were gonna win that ballgame,” Williams said. “Incredible.”

The coach and his team were thrust into harried game preparation less than a week after Bryan Harsin was fired. Things should be better this week as the Tigers host Texas A&M at 6:30 p.m. Saturday on the SEC Network.

“We can actually have a whole week where we can really watch Texas A&M and come up with a plan and really attack them guys the way we see fit,” Williams said. “Offensively, with us getting this time, we’re gonna play a lot better.”

The Aggies and Tigers are each 3-6 overall, 1-5 in the SEC. Each is riding a five-game losing streak.

Like Alabama and Auburn, UAB (4-5, 2-4) went into overtime last week. The Blazers went into a second extra session before falling to UTSA.

Now they welcome North Texas (6-4, 5-1) to Protective Stadium at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on the Stadium network.

“They’re averaging over 500 yards a game offensively,” Blazers interim coach Bryant Vincent said. “They’re extremely balanced. They’re a physical, running football team. They like to protect it up, max protect it up and take their shots and push it down the field, which they’ve been able to hit a lot this year.”

Alabama A&M (3-6, 3-3 Southwestern Athletic Conference) faces a stiff challenge as it takes on Jackson State at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Gulf Coast Challenge at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile on ESPN Plus.

“They’re the best team in the league,” A&M coach Connell Maynor said of the Deion Sanders-led Tigers. “They’re the defending (SWAC) champs. They were undefeated in the league last year. They’re undefeated at this point in the league. As good as they were last year, they’re probably better this year.”

The Bulldogs coach isn’t throwing in the towel against JSU (9-0, 6-0).

“We just know what we’re up against,” Maynor said. “They’re No. 5 in the nation in the whole FCS football program. We just know what we’re up against and know that we can’t come out and turn the ball over four times like we did last week against (Mississippi) Valley.”

In other college action:

Tuskegee at Benedict: Coach Reginald Ruffin wasted no time getting Tuskegee back to the brink of a championship in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. In his first season back where he was an assistant coach, he led the Golden Tigers (8-2, 7-0) to a double-overtime win last week over rival Miles to keep their SIAC slate clean.

That set the stage for the SIAC Football Championship presented by Cricket, pitting Tuskegee against East Division champ Benedict (10-0, 7-0) at 1 p.m. Central Saturday in Columbus, S.C.

The game airs on ESPN3. The Benedict Tigers are No. 8 in this week’s AFCA Division II Coaches’ Top 25 Poll.

Eastern Kentucky at Jacksonville State: The Gamecocks (7-2, 3-0 in the ASUN) impeached the Governors of Austin Peay 40-16 before their bye last week. They welcome the Colonels (6-3, 2-1) at 3 p.m. Saturday.

In his first year as Tuskegee’s head coach, Reginald Ruffin has the Golden Tigers back in the running for the SIAC Championship. (Tuskegee Athletics)

Samford at Chattanooga: The Bulldogs (8-1, 6-0) and the Mocs (7-2, 5-1) have been on a collision course atop the Southern Conference. The winner of this game at 12:30 p.m. Central Saturday on ESPN Plus will have a serious leg up in claiming the league championship. Chattanooga is No. 11 nationally; Samford is No. 10.

Army at Troy: The Trojans (7-2, 5-1) continue to roll along this season. This week, they step out of the Sun Belt Conference to take on the Black Knights (3-5) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Texas State at South Alabama: The Jaguars (6-2, 3-1) won three games in a row this season before falling to Troy. They can match that win streak at 4 p.m. Saturday against the Bobcats (3-6, 1-4).

Tennessee Tech at North Alabama: The Lions (1-8, 0-5) narrowly lost 38-35 to Austin Peay to conclude their ASUN schedule. Kickoff against the Golden Eagles (3-6) is 4 p.m. Saturday.

West Alabama at Delta State: A winning record is on the line at 2 p.m. Saturday as the Tigers (5-5, 3-4) close their season against the Statesmen (9-1, 6-1).

Birmingham-Southern at Rhodes: The Panthers (7-2, 5-1) head up Interstate 22 to end their regular season with a 1 p.m. Saturday meeting in Memphis with the Lynx (4-5, 2-3).

LaGrange at Huntingdon: A USA South Athletic Conference title seems a foregone conclusion for the Hawks (8-1, 6-0) as they host the last-place Panthers (1-7, 0-6) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Florida A&M at Alabama State: The Hornets (6-3, 4-2 SWAC) welcome the Rattlers (7-2, 5-1 SWAC) at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Pikeville at Faulkner: The Eagles (4-6, 3-4) conclude the 2022 season by hosting the Bears (5-4, 4-3) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Season concluded: Miles.


Class 7A: Talk about déjà vu. For the second time in as many seasons, Hewitt-Trussville visits Hoover in the second round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association playoffs. And if last year’s 24-23 Hoover victory is any indication, this game Friday be worth the price of admission. More recently, the Bucs stopped the Huskies 17-7 on Sept. 16. Hoover (10-1) was No. 1 in the final Alabama Sports Writers Association poll and Hewitt-Trussville (8-3) was No. 5.

Class 6A: No. 7 Mountain Brook (9-2) visits Gadsden City (7-4) on Friday.

Class 5A: No. 4 Ramsay travels to Guntersville tonight. Each team is 9-2.

Class 4A: Oneonta (9-1) welcomes No. 3 Priceville (11-0) on Friday.

Class 3A: No. 2 Gordo (10-1) greets Lauderdale County (7-4) on Friday.

Class 2A: No. 7 Vincent (10-1) visits Clarke County (6-5) on Friday.

Class 1A: No. 6 Leroy (9-1) heads to Maplesville (8-3) on Friday.

AISA: Valiant Cross (4-6) will need a valiant effort tonight as the Warriors venture to the No. 2 Lee-Scott Warriors (10-0).