Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Kentucky Wildcats Complete Game Preview
Alabama enters the meat of its SEC schedule this week, traveling to Lexington for the first time since 2009.
The Crimson Tide will be looking to build off of their blowout win against Georgia State, while Kentucky will play its fourth straight AP Top 20 team.
Alabama looks like it will be without the services of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix for the second straight game. Clinton-Dix remains indefinitely suspended after reportedly taking money from a strength and conditioning coach.
Here's everything you need to know about the game:
Time: 6 p.m. CT
Place: Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, Ky.
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network, IMG Sports Network
Spread: Alabama by 27-28 points, according to Vegas Insider.
Alabama Keys to Victory
Stop the two-quarterback system
Before last week's game against South Carolina, the Wildcats played two quarterbacks—Jalen Whitlow and Maxwell Smith. Smith is more of a pocket passer, while Whitlow is more mobile.
But against South Carolina last week, Whitlow was the only QB who played for Kentucky. That might be indicative of where coach Mark Stoops wants to go at quarterback going forward.
Alabama still has to be ready to stop both.
Stay the course
Alabama shouldn't have trouble dispatching Kentucky but will need to continue its dominant ways as it moves through its relatively easy October schedule.
Kentucky Keys to Victory
Slow down the passing attack
Alabama has been deadly efficient through the air, with starter AJ McCarron going 90-of-126 with 1,048 yards and 10 touchdowns. But he's thrown three interceptions, matching his total from last year already.
The Crimson Tide's offense goes through McCarron, and slowing him down will be key for Kentucky.
Take advantage of the depleted secondary
With Ha Ha Clinton-Dix out, Alabama has another hole in its secondary that Kentucky's quarterbacks can take advantage of. Landon Collins and Geno Smith are more than capable replacements, but there is no substitute for experience, which Clinton-Dix has.
Players to Watch for Alabama
Collins is the primary replacement for Clinton-Dix and has already proven himself this season at the "Money" position. The sophomore's performance will go a long way in determining how the Crimson Tide secondary holds up this week.
With a depleted defense, Alabama will be looking to its senior leader to keep everyone on the same page. The player Tide coach Nick Saban called the "quarterback of the defense" will play a big role in getting the defense ready to go.
Wherefore art thou, Amari Cooper? The former freshman All-American has been largely missing in action this season. He has been nursing a toe injury but has played in games this season without much production.
Players to Watch for Kentucky
If last week was any indication, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops likes what he's seen from Whitlow. Even if he doesn't play him the whole game, Alabama should expect to see a whole lot of Kentucky's dual-threat quarterback.
Kentucky's senior linebacker is third in the SEC in tackles (51) and 15th in the country. Williamson will be relied upon to slow down Alabama's rushing attack, which has picked up steam in the last few weeks.
Smith has wreaked havoc this year with 4.5 sacks so far. He could put added pressure on McCarron and force him into costly mistakes.
What They're Saying
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said everyone's excited about playing Alabama, according to Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal:
It's no secret. I've told you guys over and over again that I thought overall this team really has a good attitude and comes every day and they're fun to coach. I felt that on Monday and I felt that again today.
"He's really kind of a dual-threat guy," Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said. "He's a good runner. He's really continued to improve as a passer and was effective last week in that regard."
After being beat down mentally and physically from playing against three consecutive top 20 college football programs, you could say this may be a game that Big Blue Nation needs to leave the women and children home this Saturday. It could be ugly, but then again it could be another special building block game that is gaining steam in the renovation project Mark Stoops and his staff have attacked head on without reservation.
"We're not going to be willing to worry about anybody's perception of what's happening, if we have to take steps to get guys to do the right things the right way at the right time," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "I think that our concern is that we get our players to do the right things the right way all the time. If players are committed and doing the right things, we won't have those issues to be dealing with.
"But if it's not happening that way, I think the way to get it that way is to make sure everybody knows and understands that in this world we live in, there's consequences for every choice and decision that you make."
Alabama 41, Kentucky 10
Alabama should thoroughly dismantle a weak Kentucky team, even on the road. Kentucky is certainly on the upswing under Stoops, but it is still nowhere close to being ready to compete with the best of the best in the SEC.
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