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Alabama football coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide sideline offer support during Saturday night's 34-20 win at Tennessee.

Alabama's football team has an open date this week, and nobody needs reminding who's next for the No. 3 Crimson Tide.

"It's always a good time for an off week, but especially going into the LSU game," Alabama junior linebacker Reggie Ragland said after Saturday night's 34-20 win at Tennessee. "We've got to get our guys healthy who are banged up."

The Nov. 8 showdown in Baton Rouge was picked up Monday by CBS, which will televise the game at 8 p.m. CBS has one prime-time telecast each season in the Southeastern Conference and is using it on the Alabama-LSU game for a fourth consecutive year.

This is also the sixth time in coach Nick Saban's eight seasons in Tuscaloosa that the Crimson Tide have been off the week before facing his former team.

Alabama is taking a break following a unique month that began with a 23-17 upset loss at Ole Miss and a 14-13 survival at Arkansas. The Crimson Tide then regrouped to demolish Texas A&M 59-0 and took a 27-0 lead on the Volunteers before prevailing by two touchdowns to improve to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in conference play.

"I think we've got a team that's sort of up and down a little bit," Saban said after vanquishing the Vols for the eighth consecutive time. "We struggled a little bit at Arkansas and played great against Texas A&M. We played great at times in this game and played so-so at times, and I think consistency in performance is what's going to be the key in being successful down the road. That's something all of our players need to understand, and I think they do understand that.

"We have to be able to play Alabama football on a more consistent basis, and that's something we've all got to be committed to do."

The interception by junior safety Landon Collins that preserved the win over the Razorbacks and the celebration that ensued has been viewed as the turning point in the Crimson Tide's season. That win followed the program's first loss to Ole Miss since 2003, when Eli Manning was a senior quarterback for the Rebels.

Alabama led Ole Miss 14-3 at halftime.

"I think we've tried to forget what happened in that game and have tried to look forward to the opponents that we've got coming up," Tide senior quarterback Blake Sims said. "We've just taken the little things step by step. This team is getting better and better every week, and we're becoming closer.

"We play hard for each other, and the way the coaches fight for us makes us want to play hard for them."

Alabama's three remaining SEC games are against No. 16 LSU, No. 1 Mississippi State and No. 4 Auburn. The games against Mississippi State and Auburn are in Bryant-Denny Stadium, where the Crimson Tide have been dominant so far this season.

"In my freshman year and my sophomore year, we always played better on the road," junior receiver Amari Cooper said. "This year it's reversed, and I'm not sure why."

Tide tidbits

Saban told reporters Monday in Montgomery that freshman left tackle Cam Robinson would be out "a couple of weeks" with the high-ankle sprain he suffered in Knoxville. ... Alabama will practice today through Thursday this week. ... Ragland was named Monday among 15 semifinalists for the Butkus Award.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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