Kentucky Wildcats (2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS) vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS)
College Football Week 5
Date/Time: Saturday, October 1st, 7:00PM (EST)
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium Tuscaloosa, A.L.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Kentucky +34/Alabama -34
Over/Under Total: TBA
The no. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide returns to SEC competition this week when they host the Kentucky Wildcats inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. Last week the Crimson Tide overcame a 43 point spread, to shutout Kent State 48-0 to remain unbeaten and move their ATS mark to 3-1 on the season. This week Alabama will once again be big favorites when they welcome the Wildcats into Tuscaloosa. However, the Wildcats are coming off a big victory over South Carolina and they will look to keep their new found confidence rolling against the top team in the country.
After several weeks of getting beat up on the defensive side of the football, Kentucky found some answers in last Saturday’s 17-10 victory over South Carolina. The Wildcats bottled up the Gamecocks and allowed just 268 yards of total offense. It was a huge different from the opening 3 games where Kentucky allowed over 40 points and nearly 500 yards of offense in each game. The big question going into this week that I have proposed following last Saturday’s win is did Kentucky really improve or was South Carolina’s offense just that bad?
Unfortunately for Wildcats fans, I think South Carolina’s offense was just that bad. The Wildcats still gave up some big plays and there would have been several more if the Gamecocks could have hit some throws down the field. Therefore, I am not concerned that the defensive issues for Kentucky have truly been resolved. Alabama’s offense line completely dominates Kentucky’s defensive line in size and talent. Therefore, I expect the Crimson Tide to bully Kentucky in the run game with the help of Crimson Tide running back Damien Harris. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is also dangerous with his feet and I saw a few trends in last week’s game that leads me to believe Hurts will have a monster game on Saturday and since I have been correct on every Alabama game so far this season, pay attention.
The Wildcats allowed South Carolina quarterback Brandon McIlwain to extend plays over and over again last Saturday night. South Carolina had receivers that were running down the field open but McIlwain just could not get them the ball. That will not be the case this Saturday. While Alabama grinds their way on the ground, Hurts is going to have chances to exploit Kentucky’s secondary down the field. Hurts will be able to extend plays and deliver accurate throws down the field. When that happens, Alabama is going to have the recipe for big plays that lead to quick strikes on offense.
However, Kentucky’s defense is not the only reason this game is a total mismatch. The Wildcats offense is right there with South Carolina for the worse groups in the SEC. In their two SEC games thus far, the Wildcats have scored a combined 24 points and 250 yards on average. While those two games were against solid defenses, Alabama has the best defense in the conference. Outside of the shootout with Chad Kelly and the Rebels offense, Alabama’s defense has been pretty dominant and I just do not think Kentucky’s offensive line can give Stephen Johnson enough time to through the football.
In last week’s victory, Kentucky was still pretty bad when it came to trying to throw the ball down the field. Running backs Stanley Williams and Benjamin Snell delivered the majority of the offense with nearly 200 yards rushing combined and two touchdowns. Kentucky is not going to be able to run the ball like that against Alabama unless something truly bizarre transpires in Tuscaloosa Saturday night. When that happens, I don’t have any confidence that Johnson can deliver the ball down the field on a consistent enough basis to keep this game competitive.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Alabama owns a 36-2-1 record all-time against Kentucky. Not only does that streak continue Saturday but the Crimson Tide will also cover the spread. Take Alabama -34
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