David Paschall: Bulldogs to convincingly atone for last year's loss to Gators

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Oct. 27—Alabama's 52-24 defeat of Tennessee last Saturday night inside Bryant-Denny Stadium marked Nick Saban's final game as a 60-something.

When the Crimson Tide host LSU on Nov. 6, Saban will have turned 70, with his Halloween birthday taking place this Sunday. On Wednesday's Southeastern Conference teleconference, Saban was asked if he felt better on the doorstep of 70 than he may have thought back when he was 50.

His distant relative, the late former Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos coach Lou Saban, actually took a job at 80 with Division II Chowan University in North Carolina in 2001.

"I never really thought about that, to be honest with you, but I can tell you that I'm thankful every day and feel blessed that I have the opportunity to continue to be healthy and to be able to do this job without a lot of issues or problems," Saban said. "I'm not really thinking a lot about what's going to happen 10 years from now, either, because I try to focus on what's happening now and try and take advantage of whatever opportunities we have to do the best job we can to be a good husband, granddad, father, coach or whatever.

"I feel blessed that we have the opportunity we have and the opportunities that we've had in the past."

A quick synopsis of Saban by the decade places him as a Kent State defensive back at 20, Ohio State's secondary coach at 30, Bill Belichick's defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns at 40, LSU's head coach on the way to the 2001 SEC title at 50, and Alabama's coach at 60 en route to a second national championship in three years.

Saban won his sixth national title with the Tide last season and is on a 21-1 surge, so there don't seem to be many signs of him letting up.

"I just kind of keep on keeping on," he said. "I don't have a timetable for anything. The only thing I've ever said is that if I felt like I was riding the program down or wasn't able to make a positive contribution to the program that it would probably be time to let somebody else carry the torch."

When Saban left Michigan State after the 1999 season for LSU, he went from making roughly $700,000 annually to $1.2 million. This season, he is making roughly $9.75 million.

What does someone making a shade under $10 million want for his birthday?

"I just always wish for everybody in our family to stay healthy and for them to have continued blessings in their lives," Saban said, "and that's the same for the people in our organization who work hard to try to help us be successful and all the players who work hard and invest their time. Nothing for me. I'm getting along fine.

"If there is something out there I want, we just usually go get it."

Pasquali's Pix

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech: Remember how maddening the Atlanta Braves were this summer when they kept alternating losses and wins? That's Georgia Tech so far this season. Yellow Jackets 23, Hokies 20.

Furman at UTC: Nothing like a home-and-home series in the same calendar year. Mocs 30, Paladins 19.

Missouri at Vanderbilt: The Tigers no longer rank last nationally in run defense, having moved ahead of Butch Jones and Arkansas State. Tigers 42, Commodores 20.

Florida vs. Georgia: Slightly different feel to this one compared to a year ago. Bulldogs 33, Gators 16.

Ole Miss at Auburn: The more the Tigers win under first-year coach Bryan Harsin, the more curious everyone becomes as to whether he's vaccinated. Tigers 27, Rebels 24.

Kentucky at Mississippi State: This is the most even of the SEC's permanent cross-divisional rivalries at 24-24, but the Wildcats haven't won in Starkville since 2008. Wildcats 20, Bulldogs 13.

North Carolina at Notre Dame: These were top-10 teams in the preseason, and only the Fighting Irish have a chance to still be one. Irish 26, Tar Heels 24.

Penn State at Ohio State: The Buckeyes have won 22 straight Big Ten games. The Nittany Lions couldn't beat Bielema. Buckeyes 35, Nittany Lions 16.

Other picks:

Coastal Carolina 49, Troy 22

Cincinnati 55, Tulane 16

Michigan 28, Michigan State 21

Iowa 23, Wisconsin 20

Baylor 34, Texas 27

Pittsburgh 42, Miami 28

Iowa State 27, West Virginia 25

Oklahoma 56, Texas Tech 23

Oregon 41, Colorado 14

MTSU 30, Southern Miss 19

Clemson 24, Florida State 17

Syracuse 33, Boston College 30

Wake Forest 48, Duke 9

Oklahoma State 66, Kansas 15

N.C. State 40, Louisville 33

Virginia 31, Brigham Young 24

San Diego State 32, Fresno State 31

Last week:

Winners — 20

Franklins — 5

Pasquali is 148-52 overall (74%) this season.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.