Kentucky vs. Alabama
Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, KY.
TV • ESPN2
Play-by-Play Mark Jones
Analyst Brock Huard
Sideline Lewis Johnson
GAME HASHTAG • #BamavsUK
Record: 1-4, 0-2 Southeastern Conference
Ranking: Not ranked
Last game: L, 35-28 vs. #13/12 South Carolina (A)
Coach: Mark Stoops (Iowa, 1989)
Record: 1-4 (First season)
at UK: 1-4 (First season)
vs. UA: 0-0
ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE:
Record: 5-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference
Ranking: No. 1 (AP), No. 1 (USA Today)
Last game: W, 45-3 vs. Georgia State (H)
Coach: Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973)
Record: 158-55-1 (18th season)
at UA: 67-13 (Seventh season)
vs. UK: 5-0
Overall: Alabama leads 35-2-1
in Lexington: Alabama leads 14-2
Last Meeting: Alabama defeated Kentucky 38-20 on Oct. 3, 2009, at Commonwealth Stadium.
8/31 vs. WKU [ESPNews] (Nashville) L, 26-35
9/7 Miami (Ohio) [Fox South] W, 41-7
9/14 #7/7 Louisville [ESPN] L, 13-27
9/28 #19/20 Florida* [ESPNU] L, 7-24
10/5 at 13/12 South Carolina* [FSN] L, 28-35
10/12 #1/1 Alabama* [ESPN2] 7 p.m.
10/24 at Mississippi State* [ESPN] 7:30 p.m.
11/2 Alabama State TBA
11/9 Missouri* TBA
11/16 at Vanderbilt* TBA
11/23 at Georgia* TBA
11/30 Tennessee* TBA
Note: all times Eastern and subject to change
* SEC game
8/31 vs. Virginia Tech (Atlanta, Ga.) W, 35-10
9/14 at Texas A&M* W, 49-42
9/21 Colorado State W, 31-6
9/28 Ole Miss* W, 25-0
10/5 Georgia State W, 45-3
10/12 Kentucky* 7 p.m.
10/19 Arkansas* TBA
10/26 Tennessee* TBA
11/9 LSU* TBA
11/16 at Mississippi State* TBA
11/23 Chattanooga TBA
11/30 at Auburn* TBA
WILDCAT KEYS TO THE GAME:
When Kentucky has the ball… All the Cats have to do is find a way to accomplish something nobody has done against Nick Saban’s defense in almost a month: reach the end zone. Since giving up 42 points to Texas A&M and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel on Sept. 14, the Crimson Tide have held their last three opponents to a combined nine points on three field goals. Alabama is currently tied for fourth nationally in points allowed per game (12.2) and is looking to become the first program in NCAA history to lead the nation in that category three years in a row. Kentucky enters the game with nice momentum from a strong second-half performance against South Carolina, but can it carry over? The Cats must avoid getting “behind the chains,” as the staff likes to say, and putting themselves in long-yardage situations on second and third down. Running the ball is no simple task against the Tide, but UK must remain committed to it and keep the defense honest. Becoming one-dimensional against Bama is almost certain doom. It will be interesting to see if the Cats can build on the passing connection Jalen Whitlow had with tight ends Jordan Aumiller and Anthony Kendrick last week, a new wrinkle the offense has lacked for a long time.
When Alabama has the ball… The Crimson Tide are big and physical up front with one of the best offensive lines in college football. Alabama goes 310-315-302-309-315 across the starting front line, anchored by terrific left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio (#71 - 6-6, 310) who is one of the top NFL prospects at his position. At quarterback, A.J. McCarron (#10 – 1,048 yards passing, 71.4% comp, 10 TD, 3 INT) doesn’t receive the hype that some of the other signal callers across the country do, but he owns 30 career victories against two losses and a .938 career winning percentage, tops in Alabama and SEC history. He’s got skilled weapons galore in sophomore running back T.J. Yeldon (#4 – 445 rushing yards, 6.2 avg, 4 TD), junior receiver Christion Jones (#22 – 20 receptions, 232 yards, 2 TD), sophomore receiver Amari Cooper (#9 – 9 receptions, 100 yards) and DeAndrew White (#2 – 15 receptions, 212 yards, 3 TD). Kentucky will need to have its best tackling game of the season, and even that may not be enough. Alabama likely needs to help UK’s cause with multiple turnovers to open the door for upset thoughts.
Senior running back Raymond Sanders has 1,261 career rushing yards and needs three more to tie Chris Hill for 24th place on the UK career rushing list. … Senior running back Jonathan George has 786 career rushing yards and needs just 214 more to become the 34th player in school history with 1,000 career rushing yards. … Junior defensive end Bud Dupree has 12.5 career sacks, needing 5 more to tie for fourth most all-time in school history. … Junior defensive end Za’Darius Smith has 4.5 sacks this season needing just 4.5 more to tie for the fourth most sacks in a season in school history (Jeremy Jarmon 9 in 2007, Oliver Barnett 9 in 1988).
ON THIS DAY IN UK HISTORY:
Saturday marks the 18th time in school history that the Wildcats have played a game on Oct. 12. Kentucky holds an all-time record of 8-7-2 on this date. UK hasn’t played on this date since 2002 when it fell 16-12 to South Carolina in Lexington. The Cats’ last victory on this date was a 33-19 win over Mississippi State during the 1985 season.
• This is the 39th meeting between Alabama and Kentucky. The teams first played in 1917 and played annually from 1922-47, except in 1943 due to World War II. There was a 25-year gap between games from 1947-1972.
• Alabama has won four straight over Kentucky, which last defeated the Crimson Tide 40-34 in overtime during the 1997 season.
• Kentucky and Alabama share a heritage with one of the greatest coaches in football history, Paul “Bear” Bryant, who was at UK from 1946-53. Bryant compiled a 60-23-5 mark during his eight consecutive winning seasons at UK and led the Wildcats to the Orange, Sugar and Cotton bowls consecutively from 1949-51. After a brief stay at Texas A&M, he coached for 25 years at Alabama and retired in 1982 as the winningest coach in NCAA football history.
• Kentucky has seven players on its 2013 roster from the state of Alabama, including quarterback Jalen Whitlow (Prattville), wide receiver Daryl Collins (Gadsden), running back Jonathan George (Lincoln), safety Eric Dixon (Mobile), wide receiver Rashad Cunningham (Mobile), defensive end Za’Darius Smith (Greenville) and kicker Austin MacGinnis (Prattville). Alabama has no players on its 2013 roster from Kentucky.
• At halftime of Saturday’s game, UK Athletics and the National Football Foundation will honor Steve Meilinger for his upcoming induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. Meilinger played at Kentucky from 1951-53 under Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant and was a two-time All-American who played multiple positions for the Wildcats.