Georgia State (0-4) at (1) Alabama (4-0)|
Saturday, October 5, 12:21 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: It's Homecoming in Tuscaloosa this weekend, as the top-ranked
Alabama Crimson Tide play host to the Georgia State Panthers.
The two-time defending champion has opened the 2013 season with four straights
wins, including victories over sixth-ranked Texas A&M (49-42) and most
recently, 21st-ranked Ole Miss (25-0) in SEC West action. Nick Saban's team
has won three of the last four national titles overall and has positioned
itself to play for another one, heading into the second half of the season.
The Panthers are in their inaugural season of FBS play and are obviously
taking a huge step up in competition this week. Trent Miles' squad has dropped
four straight games to begin his tenure with the squad, three of which have
come against FCS foes Samford (31-21), Chattanooga (42-14) and most recently,
Jacksonville State (32-26 OT). The lone FBS foe on the docket resulted in a
41-7 drubbing at West Virginia. Georgia State was idle last week.
The overtime loss to Jacksonville State last time out wasn't easy to take
according to Miles.
"That last game was a tough game. We felt we had a chance to win the game, but
we didn't get it done. When you lose a game and then have to wait a long time
to play, it's hard, but we had a great open week."
Miles knows what he's up against this weekend in Tuscaloosa.
"They are impressive in everything they do. They're so big, physical, fast and
well-coached," Miles said of the Crimson Tide. "But we're excited to go play
and compete against the best."
This marks the second meeting between these two programs. The first matchup
took place in 2010, a 63-7 rout by Alabama.
The Panthers aren't exactly an offensive juggernaut in their first season at
the FBS level. The team is averaging 346.5 yards per game, with the most
success coming via the pass (249.5 ypg). However, sustaining drives hasn't
been a strength, with GSU converting just 36 percent of the time on third
Sophomore quarterback Ronnie Bell has struggled with consistency, completing
just 46.0 percent of his passes, for 774 yards (193.5 ypg), with five
touchdowns and three interceptions. Bell is looking the way of Albert Wilson
more often than not and for good reason. The 5-foot-9 senior wide receiver is
averaging over 114 yards receiving per game, leading the team in receptions
(22), receiving yards (457) and TD catches (4).
The ground game averages a modest 97.0 yards per game, led by senior tailback
Travis Evans' 188 yards (4.5 ypc).
The Panthers have really had problems defensively this season, getting gashed
by both the run (218.2 ypg) and the pass (249.8 ypg). Opponents have scored on
82 percent of their red zone trips (14-of-17) and 65 percent of the time it
results in a touchdown (11-of-17). Big plays have been few and far between,
with Georgia State recording just five sacks and four takeaways thus far.
Sophomore linebacker Tarris Batiste leads the team in total tackles (24) and
TFL (4.5). Senior safety Rashad Stewart is a close second in stops (23).
Senior cornerback Brent McClendon (20 tackles) is responsible for half of the
team's takeaways, with one interception and one fumble recovery.
It wasn't a typical offensive performance by Alabama, but the team did ride a
strong rushing effort from T.J. Yeldon to a big victory over Ole Miss last
week. Yeldon rushed for 121 yards, including a 68-yard TD-scamper.
All-American quarterback AJ McCarron didn't have a particularly strong game
against the Rebels, but has still be solid overall this season, completing
68.2 percent of his throws, for 882 yards and six touchdowns. There are
several threats in the vertical game, including Christion Jones (17 catches,
210 yards, one TD) and DeAndrew White (11 catches, 167 yards, two TDs). They
have stepped up in the absence of sophomore star Amari Cooper, who has
struggled to get on the field.
Still, like in year's past, Alabama dominates up front and can grind games out
with a steady rushing attack. In 2013, it is Yeldon that leads the charge,
averaging 6.0 ypc and pacing the team with 394 yards and three TDs.
What was normal last week against Ole Miss was the defensive effort for
Alabama, which held the usually potent Rebels (490 ypg) to a meager 205 total
On the season, opponents are averaging a mere 14.5 ppg against UA, including
just 103.5 yards rushing. All-American linebacker C.J. Mosley is the heart-
and-soul of the unit. The 6-2, 232-pound senior leads the Crimson Tide in
total tackles by a large margin with 35 stops. All-American candidate Ha Ha
Clinton-Dix (6-1, 208-pound safety) is second on the team in tackles (24) from
the safety position. However, Clinton-Dix was suspended indefinitely this week
for a violation of team rules. Junior safety Vinnie Sunseri (15 tackles, two
interceptions) is another playmaker in the Alabama secondary and will need to
elevate his game even more with Clinton-Dix not on the field.
Despite the obvious mismatch in this game, Saban knows his team needs to stay
"There is nothing to be taken for granted in any team that you play. I think
the best way to do that is focus on who you are, what you're doing, how you
want to improve and how you want to play to be the best player that you can
be. That is certainly going to be our focus for this week."
The reality is that this contest should afford Saban the ability to empty his
bench and get a lot of backups much needed playing time.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Alabama 63, Georgia State 3
10/03 08:02:18 ET