No.1 Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0 SU, 2-3 ATS) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (1-4 SU, 2-3 ATS)
College Football Week 7
Date and Time: Saturday October 12th, 2013. 7:00PM Eastern
Where: Commonwealth Stadium Lexington, K.Y.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Ala -26.5/UK +26.5
Over/Under Total: OFF
Coach Mark Stoops in just a short time has quickly learned what life in
the SEC is like. Stoops and the Kentucky Wildcats have
dropped 3 straight games at the hands of top 20 ranked teams while sporting
a 1-4 overall record. The good news is the schedule has to lighten up, right?
Not so fast. This Saturday night Nick Saban and the number 1 ranked Alabama
Crimson Tide roll into Lexington for a primetime showdown under
the lights at Commonwealth Stadium.
Last week the Wildcats showed some resilience against no. 13 South Carolina. Despite being down 27-7, the Wildcats stormed back with 21 4th quarter points in a 35-28 loss to the Gamecocks. Kentucky simply ran out of time despite having the Gamecocks’ defense on their heels as the Wildcats offense finally found some momentum behind QB Jalen Whitlow. Stoops had utilized a two quarterback offense throughout the first 5 weeks of the season between sophomores Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow. During that time, Kentucky managed just 378 total yards (94th in NCAA) per game and threw just 5 touchdowns through the first 4 games. Obviously things were not working from the dual quarterback approach so Coach Stoops handed the keys of the offense to Jalen Whitlow.
Whitlow responded by completing 17 of 24 passing for 178 yards with two touchdowns and running for another 69 yards with a touchdown on the ground. Whitlow provided a much needed spark for the Wildcats stagnant offense and he will get full control of the offense yet again this Saturday against a ferocious Alabama defense that seems to be hitting their stride. The Wildcats will be huge 26.5 point underdogs but surely look to make things much closer than the experts think just as they did against South Carolina.
On the other hand Alabama will look to remain unbeaten as they embark on their 2nd road trip of the season. The Crimson Tide’s only other road trip this season was the 49-42 thriller over Texas A&M. Since that game, the Crimson Tide defense has really come into fruition as they have given up just 9 points over the last 3 games including a big shutout against Ole Miss. I think this will be an interesting spot for this Alabama defense in determining if they are truly the national championship caliber unit that Alabama has had the past several years. The defense received a lot of criticism after the first few weeks and the defense has played with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. Can they keep up that intensity on this sneaky road trip to Lexington?
Offensively Alabama has been a bit more balanced so far this season as opposed to the heavy rushing attack. That is not to say the Crimson Tide offense still does not run the ball as their bread and butter is still on the ground. However, senior QB A.J McCarron has proved he has an arm that must be utilized. McCarron has completed 71% of his passes this season for 1,048 yards with 10 touchdowns and just 3 picks. McCarron is an extremely accurate passer that makes very few mistakes which is a great compliment to Alabama’s superior rushing attack. Running back T.J Yeldon is one of the better backs in the entire country and he has averaged 6.2 yards per carry this season. Yeldon made a huge impact in the Crimson Tide’s two biggest games this season against Texas A&M and Ole Miss as he rushed for 270 yards with two touchdowns in those games. Therefore expect Yeldon to carry the work load again this Saturday night against a fairly underrated Kentucky defensive unit.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I was spot on last week when I predicted that Saban would call off the dogs against Georgia State and not cover as huge 55.5 point favorites. Alabama jumped out to a big 38-0 lead at the half before basically just kneeling on the ball the entire 2nd half to win 45-3. However, this game should and will be a bit different as Kentucky is a team that you cannot let stay around. Just look at how they nearly come from behind last week against South Carolina. The Crimson Tide defense should keep a fairly manageable Kentucky offense on the short side of the field and capitalize with plenty of scoring opportunities. I know Alabama has been poor against the spread this year but they are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games as favorites between 21 to 30 points. Take Alabama -26.5!
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