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By Stan J. Griffin: November 7, 2016

Fully aware that his No. 1 University of Alabama football team is coming off a very physical and emotional 10-0 road victory over LSU this past weekend, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Monday that his team must now come back down to earth and of course turn its focus toward another challenging opponent.
And that opponent just happens to be Dan Mullen's much-improved Mississippi State team, a squad that has been very solid in its past three games, and has won two in a row coming into Saturday's game at Bryant-Denny Stadium.  Of course this past weekend, Mullen's team stunned then-No. 4 Texas A&M 35-28 in Starkville.
Alabama (9-0 overall, 6-0 in Southeastern Conference play) battles MSU (4-5 overall, 2-3 in league play) in Tuscaloosa in an SEC West clash set to kickoff at 11 a.m. CT. The game will be televised by ESPN.
"We obviously have a lot of work to do in some areas of our team and I think the biggest thing is, we can't have any relief syndrome after a big emotional game, especially when you have a really good team coming up, and a new challenge that we all need to respond to," Saban said. "We're excited to be back home and playing this game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. I think it's always a challenge for us to respond in the right way."
He noted that the Bulldogs will be a much different style of team than the LSU squad that his team just defeated in Baton Rouge.
"They have played better and better each and every week, and they're probably playing their best football of the season right now, pretty obvious with their win over Texas A&M how good they are playing right now," Saban said. "Their quarterback (sophomore Nick Fitzgerald) has done a really good job for them all year long and he's kind of the center of what they do in terms of how much he runs the ball and his effectiveness as a runner as well as being a very effective passer. (Senior) Fred Ross is a very good receiver and an outside threat that can create explosive plays for them and they've been able to run effectively, and defensively they create a lot of issues and problems in terms of negative plays and how aggressive they are and they're very well-coached and good special teams. (Mullen) has done a great job there for a lot of years and we've always had some really difficult games and that's what will be our expectation in this game."

As a Mom, Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday. Lots of food, hanging out with the family, no pressure to shop or buy gifts.

By Stan J. Griffin: November 5, 2016

In his first start at fabled and hostile Tiger Stadium Saturday night, Alabama true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts endured the struggles that might be expected in such a precarious circumstance, especially in a pivotal Southeastern Conference showdown where the Crimson Tide and LSU defenses dominated for the most part.
But it was the poised and steady play of the Channelview, Texas native late in the game, overcoming an earlier interception and fumble, that ultimately propelled Nick Saban's No. 1 Tide team to a gritty and resilient 10-0 victory over Ed Orgeron's No. 13 host Tigers before a capacity crowd of 102,321 in Death Valley.
Alabama improved to 9-0 on the season overall and 6-0 in SEC play, while the Tigers fell to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in league play. The loss snapped LSU’s three-game winning streak.
It was the Crimson Tide's 21st straight win overall dating back to the 2015 season, and its sixth triumph in a row over the Tigers.
Hurts rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown in the game, and also completed 10 of 19 passes for 107 yards and a pick.
After Hurts was intercepted by Jamal Adams on the Tide's first possession of the game, the Tigers took over at the Alabama 33-yard-line. LSU, however, could not capitalize on the pick, having a 49-yard field goal attempt blocked by Ronnie Harrison.
Hurts was still a bit shaky as Alabama also went three and out on its second series of the first quarter, with the Tide freshman quarterback having a pass attempt deflected on a 3rd-and-1 play.
The defenses certainly ruled the first quarter, with the Crimson Tide failing to generate any early movement and the Tide defense harassing LSU quarterback Danny Etling, sacking him three times in the first 10 minutes.

By Stan J. Griffin: November 3, 2016

Retreating back in time to late September, it hardly appeared that the LSU football team was in any position to wreak havoc on anyone's season other than its own, and especially not for Nick Saban's No. 1 and undefeated Alabama team.
The Tigers appeared to be in much disarray after a 2-2 start and the early-season ouster of longtime coach Les Miles.
How things have changed.
Three games later, the talent-heavy Tigers are suddenly 5-2 and ranked No. 13 in the initial College Football Playoff selection committee rankings, and overall appear to be a totally rejuvenated unit under interim coach Ed Orgeron.
And now Saturday's contest between the Tigers and the Crimson Tide appears to be one of Alabama's most challenging hurdles as it seeks to run the table and repeat as Southeastern Conference and national champions.
Alabama (8-0 overall. 5-0 SEC play) and LSU (5-2, 3-1 SEC) are set to clash in a prime time showdown at fabled Tiger Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised by CBS.
Saban noted earlier this week that he has been impressed by what he has seen from the Tigers under the direction of Orgeron, and said he knows the contest in Death Valley will be a formidable test for his top-ranked squad.

THIS WEEK'S SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE:

Georgia Southern (4-4) at Ole Miss (3-5, 1-4 SEC), Series: First Meeting, 11 a.m. CT • ESPNU, Oxford, Miss. • Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (64,038)  

Vanderbilt (4-4, 1-3 SEC) at Auburn (6-2, 4-1 SEC), Series: VU leads, 21-20-1, 11 a.m. CT • ESPN, Last: VU, 17-13 (2012 at Nashville), Auburn, AL., Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)                                  

Texas A&M (7-1, 4-1 SEC) at Mississippi State (3-5, 1-3 SEC), Series: TAMU leads, 5-4, 11 a.m. CT • SEC Network, Last: TAMU, 30-17 (2015 at College Station),   Starkville, Miss. • Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field (61,337)

Florida (6-1, 4-1 SEC) at Arkansas (5-3, 1-3 SEC), Series: UF leads, 9-1, 2:30 p.m. CT • CBS, Last: UF, 30-10 (2013 at Gainesville),  Fayetteville, Ark. • Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (72,000)        

Missouri (2-6, 0-4 SEC) at South Carolina (4-4, 2-4 SEC), Series: MIZ leads, 4-2, 3 p.m. CT • SEC Network, Last: MIZ, 24-10 (2015 at Columbia, Mo.),  Columbia, S.C. • Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)                            
 
Tennessee Tech (3-5) at Tennessee (5-3, 2-3 SEC), Series: UT leads, 5-0, 3 p.m. CT • SEC Network Alternate Channel, Knoxville, Tenn. • Neyland Stadium (102,455)                                  

Georgia (4-4, 2-4 SEC) at Kentucky (5-3, 4-2 SEC), Series: UGA leads, 55-12-2, 6:30 p.m. CT • SEC Network, Last: UG, 27-3 (2015 at Athens),  Lexington, Ky. • Commonwealth Stadium (61,000)           

Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) at LSU (5-2, 3-1 SEC), Series: UA leads, 50-25-5, 7 p.m. CT • CBS, Last: UA, 30-16 (2015 at Tuscaloosa),  Baton Rouge, La. • Tiger Stadium (102,321)

By Stan J. Griffin: November 1, 2016

With the College Football Playoff Selection Committee releasing its first rankings of the 2016 season Tuesday, it was assumed by most observers that Alabama, Michigan, Clemson and Washington would compose the initial Top 4 group of the rankings in some shape or form.
But when the rankings were unveiled on ESPN, Selection Committee Chairman Kirby Hocutt and his group had thrown an intriguing curveball into the formula.
While the Crimson Tide, Tigers and Wolverines did take their expected spots among the first four, with the top three spots respectively, the No. 4 spot did not go to Chris Petersen's Huskie team despite its undefeated record.
That spot instead went to Kevin Sumlin's Texas A&M Aggies, who lost to Nick Saban's top-ranked UA team by 19 points on Oct. 22.
Hocutt explained that the committee felt the Aggies had played an overall stronger strength of schedule than the Huskies at this point, sending an early message that that requirement component would once again be an extremely critical one in terms of determining the rankings.  The Aggies already have wins against previously-ranked opponents UCLA, Tennessee and No. 9 Auburn among their notable victories.
The Huskies are coming off a road win this past Saturday against No. 16 Utah, but apparently that did not weigh as heavily as the previous Aggie victories.
Gus Malzahn's Auburn team received a Top 10 nod after being written off by many after early losses to Texas A&M and Clemson.
Washington is ranked No. 5 in the poll, just ahead of No. 6 Ohio State and No. 7 Louisville.

The Birmingham Zoo was obviously pleased to announce record breaking attendance for the month of October. Throughout the month, the Zoo hosted its annual Halloween event, Boo at the Zoo presented by Wells Fargo, to which the success is attributed...likely along with the unusual lack of rain that has bedeviled much of the State. 

 

The Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) and the Rotaract Club of Birmingham will officially launch the first state-specific scholarship database, AchieveAlabama.org, offering students, educators and parents an effective scholarship search tool.

By Stan J. Griffin: October 31, 2016

A week away from game action allowed the No. 1 University of Alabama football team an opportunity to get a bit of physical and mental rest with the home stretch of the regular season beginning this weekend.
It also allowed the Tide coaching staff the chance to address matters such as possible replacements for injured safety Eddie Jackson.
Nick Saban, on his 65th birthday Monday, said he is anxious to see his team resume game preparation work beginning today, noting that the Tide's next contest,  against Ed Orgeron's rejuvenated No. 15 LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge, will certainly be a a challenge.
"We had a good week of practice (last week) and I felt like our team made progress after a weekend off," he said. "Always a challenge to get refocused on what do you need to do to prepare for the next game, the next challenge, and obviously this is a tremendous challenge for us to play what is arguably an undefeated team to me because they've been undefeated since their new coach, Ed Orgeron, took over.
"They've got a very good team. Playing very, very well right now. New energy and enthusiasm. There are a lot of really good games between these two teams through the years, and it's kind of developed into a rivalry game of sorts because both have been ranked over the last eight or nine years, most of the time in the Top 10. So, this is a real challenge game for us. We'll find out who we are, what we're made out of and how we can compete in a very difficult circumstance. You know, (Orgeron) took over this team, and they have played extremely well in the last three games in all phases of the game. They have some really outstanding players, on both sides of the ball.
Saban said that under Orgeron, the Tigers (5-2 overall, 3-1 in Southeastern Conference play) have made some notable revisions in their style of play, especially with their offensive approach.

This has been a particularly productive year for anglers who target redfish along the Alabama Gulf Coast, and the Alabama Marine Resources Division is doing its best to ensure it stays that way.

By the time summer rolled around each year, the only things left in my trick-or-treat pillowcase at the base of my closet were a few rolls of Smarties and a bunch of empty wrappers.

By Stan J. Griffin: October 27, 2016

Photo courtesy of Jacob M. Carter

Although University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban may not rack up a host of Coach of the Year awards when the 2016 college football season is said and done,  there is little doubt that the 10th-year Crimson Tide coach has done one of his best coaching jobs in Tuscaloosa this season, if not his best.
He has taken an Alabama team dominated in large part by freshman leaders in critical spots such as quarterback, running back and along the offensive line and once again has the Tide very much in contention for the Southeastern Conference championship and the College Football Playoff national title.
The No. 1 Crimson Tide team, off this week before returning to action on Nov. 5 against No. 19 LSU in Baton Rouge, is currently 8-0 overall and has defeated five ranked opponents thus far.
There may be many football fans and observers around the nation who may tend to wonder how Saban continues to keep the Alabama dynasty rolling, in terms of victories, national and conference titles and No. 1 recruiting classes year after year.
A new book regarding Saban, his process and his dynasty allows for a glimpse into the staggering success of the Tide football program over the course of the past eight years or so, and from a host of unique perspectives.
Jacob M. Carter's book, The Riptide, The Untold Stories from Those Who Built The Alabama Dynasty,  takes an inside look at some of the ingredients required to become a successful student-athlete in Saban's Crimson Tide juggernaut and what has contributed to the Tide once again becoming the gold standard in terms of the college football landscape.
And while this is detailed in fine form partly by Carter, author of the critically acclaimed book Before History Dies, most of the story is told through the words of a group of former Crimson Tide players, mostly those who have played for Saban at UA.

THIS WEEK'S SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE:

 

Kentucky (4-3, 3-2 SEC) at Missouri (2-5, 0-3 SEC), Series: Tied 3-3, 11 a.m. CT • SEC Network, Last: UK, 21-13 (2015 at Lexington), Columbia, Mo. • Faurot Field / Memorial Stadium (71,168)            

Samford (6-1) at Mississippi State (2-5, 1-3 SEC), Series: MSU leads, 16-1-1, 2:30 p.m. CT • SEC Network, Starkville, Miss. • Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field (61,337)        

Florida (5-1, 3-1 SEC) vs. Georgia (4-3, 2-3 SEC), Series: UGA leads, 49-42-2, 2:30 p.m. CT • CBS, Last: UF, 27-3 (2015 at Jacksonville), Jacksonville, Fla. • EverBank Field (82,871)                                       
                                                                        
Auburn (5-2, 3-1 SEC) at Ole Miss (3-4, 1-3 SEC), Series: AU leads, 29-11, 6:15 p.m. CT • SEC Network, Last: UM, 27-19 (2015 at Auburn), Oxford, Miss. • Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (64,038)                  

Tennessee (5-2, 2-2 SEC) at South Carolina (3-4, 1-4 SEC), Series: UT leads, 25-7-2, 6:15 p.m. CT • ESPN2, Last: UT, 27-24 (2015 at Knoxville),  Columbia, S.C. • Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)                         

New Mexico State (2-5) at Texas A&M (6-1, 4-1 SEC), Series: First Meeting, 6:30 p.m. CT •  ESPNU,  College Station, Texas • Kyle Field (102,512)                    

OPEN: Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC); Arkansas (5-3, 1-3 SEC);  LSU (5-2, 3-1 SEC);  Vanderbilt (4-4, 1-3 SEC)

By Stan J. Griffin: October 25, 2016

Photo by Stan J. Griffin

On the heels of another very successful Tide Tipoff event, designed to encourage greater interaction between the University of Alabama basketball teams and their supporters, the two UA teams held their Media Day Tuesday.
UA men's basketball coach Avery Johnson, Tide women's coach Kristy Curry and players from both teams participated in the two-hour session, with coaches and student-athletes from both squads expressing optimism about the upcoming 2016-17 season.
Both teams officially open the season in a doubleheader at Coleman Coliseum Nov. 11.
Curry's women's team is set to battle New Orleans at 5 p.m. CT while Johnson's squad faces Coastal Carolina at 8 p.m. CT.
"Just excited about this upcoming year, year two of our program," said Johnson. "We've had a lot over the last 15 to 16 months since I've arrived here to evaluate, install, change, improve. Obviously this was my first go-around in terms of coaching in college. There was still somewhat of a learning curve, but at the same time it's still basketball and relationships, trying to get your team to buy into a system and trying to help our student-athletes improve individually on and off the floor, and at the same time getting them to think more about the team than themselves. We've done a nice job of building our fan base and improving obviously our attendance. There is a lot to be proud of in terms of the foundation that we've built. By far we are not where we want to be, but there's been a lot of work in creating the type of culture here that I can get comfortable with."
"We're 16 days in (in terms of practice) and I'm as excited as I've been," noted Curry. "I'm thrilled with this team's commitment that started in the summer with our strength coach Terry Jones and our trainer Mallori Crockett,  the individualization that they put into our summer program and the chance to have a really and truly a full spring and summer with our staff there and it's made a big difference in our team, not only physically and stamina-wise, but we're healthier than we've been. I'm pleased as I've been where you expect to be and want to be headed into our fourth season. The trip to the NIT (last season) and the chance to get to the postseason for the first time in five years is important to experience that. We're absolutely thrilled to be in Coleman Coliseum (for home games this season once again). That's a step forward. We love our home on a daily basis (for practice) in Foster, but there are a lot of positive steps forward from each individual player to the move to Coleman, to so many little things that we feel on a daily basis and so we're extremely excited about our year ahead."

My toddler is three years old. He loves Peppa Pig, PJ Masks and Doc McStuffins. He will also glue himself to anything electronic that plays race car and monster truck videos (child-themed of course). When he sees something he does not understand, he questions me. “Why, mama?” When he sees someone hurt, his rough-on-the-outside exterior doesn’t quickly soften but his long-lashed, brown eyes do, and he will ask,Are ooo (meaning “you”) okay?”

My point is this: He’s innocent, just like all children are. And in his quest for answers to a never-ending list of questions, I have found myself anxious as I await the big question. 

Halloween treats are a must if you’re planning on attending any gatherings in coming days. I thought I’d offer up a couple of different options, including a healthier option, a Candy Corn Treat that’s oh-so-simple to make and really cute. But really, this Pumpkin Torte Cake will be the crown jewel of your Halloween party. It’s rich, sweet, elegant and festive. Enjoy your spooky holiday and bon appétit!

By Stan J. Griffin: October 23, 2016

With University of Alabama standout tight end O.J Howard currently in his final year of eligibility for Nick Saban's Crimson Tide team, Saban and his staff knew it would be needing some players to build depth at that position once Howard departs.
On Sunday night, the Crimson Tide program gained some great news in that regard.
Bullard (Texas) tight end Major Tennison, one of the nation's top prospects at that position, committed to continue his academic pursuits and his football career at Alabama.

By Stan J. Griffin: October 22, 2016

With both No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 Texas A&M bringing prolific offenses into their mammoth Southeastern Conference showdown Saturday, the common and obvious thought by most observers was that the battle of unbeatens would also be a fairly entertaining offensive display and certainly a tightly-contested affair.
And while Kevin Sumlin’s visiting Aggies did provide a semblance of drama for a brief portion of the game, the Tide’s ground attack and defense proved to be more than enough as Alabama gained a huge 33-14 triumph in front of a capacity crowd of 101,821 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. 
The top-ranked Crimson Tide improved to 8-0 overall and 5-0 in SEC play while the Aggies fell to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in league play.
Alabama also extended its overall winning streak to 20 games dating back to the 2015 season.
The win, however, did not come without a price for the Tide as Alabama coach Nick Saban reported in his postgame comments that senior strong safety/return specialist Eddie Jackson fractured his leg early in the fourth quarter and will miss the rest of the season. 
Alabama totaled 451 yards in the game, including 287 on the ground, while the Tide defense held the Aggies to 278 yards overall, and the conference’s leading rushing team entering the contest was held by UA to 114 yards on the ground. The Tide stop unit also contributed another non-offensive touchdown as defensive lineman Jonathan Allen scored his second TD of the season.
Sophomore tailback Damien Harris tallied 125 yards rushing on 18 carries while true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts carried the ball 21 times for 93 yards and a score. Hurts also completed 15 of 25 passes for 164 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also had two interceptions. 
 "I was really proud of the way our players competed in the game and how they finished the game," said Saban. "I was really proud of the way our players, after going down 14-13, played in the second half. After we got in that position, I thought it was great competitive character on their part to persevere. It's good to have a week off. I want the players to get some rest, relax and get healthy, but we can't be relieved."
 On the first offensive series of the game, the Tide marched from its 25-yard-line to the Aggie 10 before it bogged down and Alabama had to settle for a 32-yard field goal by Adam Griffith to go up 3-0 with just under 12 minutes to go in the first quarter.

Most would agree that cocktails in general are great for summer, but they are also great for fall and spring in the south on those days when it feels like summer again or when you just need to recapture a bit of the summer feeling. However, narrowing down the list for the best summer cocktails for fall is a challenge. The consensus is that people want a drink that is thirst-quenching, above all else. This means tart flavors and fruit mixtures that send the right amount of summer vibes for any sweltering get together.  If you’re lacking inspiration and need help staying away from your worn-out go-to drinks, we’ve got some suggestions for your next cocktail here. Cheers!

Halloween is a fun time of year at our Alabama state parks. Take your pick of several family-friendly "spooktacular" park events around the beautiful state.

Lake Tuscaloosa Living (LTL) is the premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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