Alabama’s matchup versus New Mexico State is its most important game of the year right now and here is why"> Alabama's matchup versus N. Mexico State is its most important one right now
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Alabama’s matchup versus New Mexico State is its most important game of the year right now and here is why

Nick Saban and Alabama players coming out of the tunnel for Mercer game
Picture comes via Crimson Tide photos

Arkansas and Auburn are important regular-season games, but they are not the focus for Alabama right now.

Everyone wants to look at a potential SEC Championship matchup between Georgia and Alabama; however, this week is the most important one for the Crimson Tide. New Mexico State is 1-8, and people would laugh if one stated their importance on the Tide’s schedule. Nevertheless, the Aggies provide a springboard for Alabama into the rest of its season if the Tide handles it correctly.

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Alabama has not put a complete game together on offense and defense. Coach Nick Saban has seen moments where the offense has looked good while the defense struggled and vice versa. We are at a point in the season where the College Football Playoff Committee wants to see dominance in all phases from the Tide.

Alabama has been in this situation before where it needed to show its command against a lower-tier team to make a statement. After a loss to Ole Miss in 2015, the Tide hosted Louisiana-Monroe at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Before a showdown with Georgia the next week, Alabama dismantled the Warhawks.

Louisiana-Monroe could not breathe against Alabama’s defense. The Tide forced six sacks and two interceptions. Alabama rendered the Warhawks to three conversions on 20 third-down attempts.

Louisiana-Monroe had 92 yards offensively, including nine yards rushing, and punted 12 times. Offensively, Jacob Coker had two touchdown passes, ArDarius Stewart and Calvin Ridley each had a touchdown catch, and the Tide’s running game had 100+ yards.

Alabama pitched a 34-0 victory, and it led to dominant performances for the remainder of the year. It is paramount for Alabama to have the same outing against New Mexico State. The Tide cannot have a “get by” game or sleepwalk into Saturday’s meeting with Aggies. Alabama has to own the FBS Independent all game.

The problems that need to be fixed are below.

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1. Offensive line woes must be fixed

Before it plays Arkansas or Auburn, Alabama’s woes on the offensive line must be fixed.

Defensive coaches have seen tape from LSU, Texas A&M, and Florida on the Tide. Coach Saban said Monday that teams copy each other, so Alabama is going to see similar looks from defenses.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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