Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/15/14

Overview: A week after dismantling then-No. 8 Michigan 41-14 in Cowboys Stadium, the Crimson Tide will play host to the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky in their home opener at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Saturday’s game can be seen on the SEC Network at 2:30 p.m. CT. The only other meeting between these two teams was a 41-7 drubbing by Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 2008.

Western Kentucky (1-0, 0-0 Sun Belt): The Hilltoppers dominated Austin Peay 49-10 last week in their first game. The team’s quarterback, senior and fourth-year starter Kawaun Jakes, threw for a career-high 296 yards and four touchdowns, completing 18-of-23 passes in addition to scoring a touchdown on the ground. Each of Jakes’ four touchdown passes went to different receivers. Western Kentucky’s 596 yards of total offense was the team’s highest total since 2005. The running game was led by Antonio Andrews, who accounted for 228 all-purpose yards. WKU’s defense held Austin Peay to 154 total yards of offense and just 11 yards passing. The Hilltoppers have won eight of their last nine games dating back to last season.

Alabama (1-0, 0-0 SEC): After earning the top spot in the polls this week, Nick Saban is doing his best to keep the Crimson Tide focused on the task at hand. His Wednesday press conference was proof of that, when he went off on the media for not giving enough respect to Western Kentucky.

There’s not many that will argue against Alabama’s performance versus Michigan being worthy of the No. 1 spot. The Tide defense did their job, holding the Wolverines to 269 total yards with 200 of those coming through the air. Denard Robinson, one of the most prolific running quarterbacks in the nation, was intercepted twice and gained only 27 yards on 10 carries. The Tide offense showed that it has the capability of being more explosive than it was last year, but the rushing game still sets the tone. Alabama gained 431 total yards of offense (232 rushing, 199 passing) against Michigan, thanks in large part to the work of the offensive line.

Summary: As good as the Crimson Tide may have looked last week, this week’s opponent is no slouch. Just look at what the Hilltoppers did to Austin Peay. They obviously have athletes capable of pulling a major upset. Alabama’s defensive backs gave up two big touchdown passes last week, both on double moves by the receiver that left cornerbacks Dee Milliner and Deion Belue in the rear view. Vinnie Sunseri was also burned once on a long pass. WKU has an experienced quarterback that knows how to spread the ball around effectively. Too many long bombs can spell disaster for any team. That being said, the Crimson Tide should have no problem taking care of business against Western Kentucky. The Tide needs depth at certain positions, and this game should give us a good gauge of where some of the younger players are in their development.

My prediction: Alabama 58, Western Kentucky 10


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