Home Sweet Home For Tide Football

Alabama opens its home football season Saturday when the Crimson Tide hosts Western Kentucky in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Kickoff is at 2:39 p.m. CDT with regional television coverage on the Southeastern Conference network.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban is doing his best to make sure everyone – most importantly his Crimson Tide players – recognizes that Western Kentucky has good players. The Hilltoppers don't have as many good players as Bama, but there are a bazillion examples of the best man – or team – being beaten.

As a quick primer for Saturday, Western Kentucky won its opener last week against Austin Peay. It was the first time since 2005 the Hilltoppers had opened with a victory, and it was a convincing one, a 49-10 decision.

Western Kentucky quarterback Kawaun Jakes, a 6-3, 194-pound senior, had 296 yards passing for four touchdowns as WKU racked up 596 yards ot total offense. WKU was 7-1 in Sun Belt Conference play last year.

Western Kentucky also has an outstanding tight end in Jack Doyle (6-6, 253) and a highly-regarded linebacker in Andrew Jackson (6-1, 265). Saban referenced Jackson as an SEC-quality player.

Of course, Alabama has quite a few SEC-quality players.

The Crimson Tide demonstrated that last week with its 41-14 win over previously eighth-ranked Michigan at the Cowboys Classic in Dallas. As a result, this week Bama is ranked number one in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls.

An SEC team has been in the top spot in 45 of the last 58 AP polls.

Alabama holds the longest active streak of consecutive AP poll appearances at 67.

Alabama moved a step closer to having the most wins in the nation in college football since 2008. Bama moved up to 49 victories. Boise State, which has 50 wins over that period, lost its opener to Michigan State.

Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron threw 21 passes without an interception against Michigan. He ended last season with 95 consecutive passes without a pick, giving him a streak of 116. That is tied with Greg McElroy for eighth best in Alabama history. Brodie Croyle has the Tide record of 190 consecutive attempts without an interception. This is McCarron's second assault on the mark. Last year in his first season as a starter he got the streak to 152 passes before suffering an interception.

Eight true freshmen made their Alabama football debuts against Michigan. They were defensive back Landon Collins, wide receiver Amari Cooper, running back Kenyan Drake, linebacker Denzel Devall, linebacker Dillon Lee, linebacker Reggie Ragland, defensive back Geno Smith, and running back T.J. Yeldon.

The Tide also had six redshirt freshmen play in the game – quarterback Phillip Ely, running back Dee Hart, center Ryan Kelly, defensive end D.J. Pettway, and wide receivers Marvin Shinn and Danny Woodson, Jr.

Another new face for Bama was junior college transfer Deion Belue, who started at cornerback.

There was one game in The Opening week in which SEC teams played one another, South Carolina edging Vanderbilt, 17-13. One SEC team, Texas A&M, did not play in the first week as the Aggies game against Louisiana Tech was delayed until Oct. 13 because of Hurricane Isaac.

In non-conference games, SEC teams went 9-2, only Auburn and Kentucky losing. Most SEC teams had a cupcake opener, but Auburn lost to Clemson and Kentucky to Louisville, and in addition to Alabama playing Michigan, Tennessee opened with a win over North Carolina State.

When Alabama goes to Arkansas for its SEC opener on Sept. 15 (CBS will televise the game beginning at 2:30 p.m. CDT), the Tide will be facing a Razorbacks team that prepared for SEC play with games against Jacksonville State and Louisiana Monroe.

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