Alabama spent most of the 2004 season ranked among the nation's top defensive teams, and the Crimson Tide is back in that spot again this year with the top-rated overall defense and the best defense against the run in Southeastern Conference statistics.
And it is no surprise that the South Carolina offense of Coach Steve Spurrier ranks number one in passing offense in the SEC.
In scoring, Alabama is rnaked sixth in the SEC with 28 points per game, while South Carolina is ninth at 19.5 points per game. Bama is tied for fifth in scoring defense, allowing 14 points per game, just ahead of the Gamecocks allowing 16 points and ranked seventh in the conference.
The Red Zone has South Carolina ranked third with success on four of five opportunities (two passing touchdowns and two of three on field goals). Alabama is sixth with 8-11, five rushing touchdowns, one passing touchdown, and 2-4 on field goals.
On Red Zone defense, South Carolina ranks third, allowing scores on six of nine opportunities (two rushing touchdowns, one passing touchdown, and three of three on field goals). Statistically, Alabama ranks worst because the Tide has given up scores on the only two times the opponent has been in the Red Zone, giving up two passing touchdowns, and ranks ninth.
Based on statistics after two games, one would not expect to see South Carolina rush much against the Tide when the teams meet Saturday in Columbia. The Gamecocks are dead last in rushing, averaging only 37.5 yards per game, while the Tide rushing defense is first in the league, giving up just 21.5 yards per game.
Passing is another story. The Cocks go from worst in rushing to first in passing, averaging 283 yards per game. Alabama is sixth, only 12 yards per game behind South Carolina at 271 yards per game. In pass defense, Alabama is fourth, allowing 156.5 yards per game, while South Carolina is seventh, giving up 185 yards per game.
In pass efficiency, South Carolina ranks fourth and Bama sixth. In pass efficiency defense, South Carolina is sixth and the Tide is eighth.
Alabama leads the league in sacks with 9 for 58 yards, followed by South Carolina second with seven for 39 yards. Bama has allowed four sacks for 21 yards, fifth in the league, while the Gamecocks have given up seven sacks for 59 yards, 10th in the SEC.
Bama is seventh in total offense, 407.5 yards per game, while the Gamecocks are 10th, 320.5 yards per game. The Tide is first in total defense, allowing just 178 yards per game, while South Carolina gives up 345.5 yards per game and ranks eighth.
Turnover margin is considered a key statistic, and neither team fares particularly well. After two games, Bama has one interception and one fumble recovery, but has lost a fumble and had two passes intercepted for minus one. South Carolina has three interceptions, but has lost three fumbles and had two passes intercepted for minus two.
Third down conversions is considered another key statistic. Alabama is eighth, 10-27 for 37 per cent, while South Carolina is 11th, 5 of 20 for 25 per cent. On defense, Bama is second, allowing 6 of 23, 26.1 per cent, and the Gamecocks are seventh, giving up 11 of 29 for 37.9 per cent.
Bama is fourth in first downs with 44 (17 rush, 22 pass, 5 penalty), while the Gamecocks are ninth with 30 (6 rush, 21 pass, 3 penalty). The Tide is second in first downs allowed with 21 (5 rush, 14 pass, 2 penalty) and South Carolina 11th in allowing first downs with opponents picking up 43 (18 rush, 22 pass, 3 penalty).
In punting, South Carolina averages 40.7 yards and 39.8 net to rank fourth in the SEC, while Alabama is a woeful 11th, averaging only 33.1 yards per punt and net of only 27 yards.
In kickoff returns, Alabama ranks third (31.2 yards per return) and South Carolina is 11th (15.8). In punt returns, the Tide is fourth (10.4 yards per return) and the Gamecocks 10th (5.5).
South Carolina has been penalized only 12 times for 68 ayrds, third least in the SEC, while Bama has been flagged 17 times for 145 yards, ranking 10th. Tide opponents are the most penalized, 19 for 179 yards.
Time of possession is not always a meaningful statistic (sometimes it means the opponent is scoring quickly), but it doesn't hurt to have Steve Spurrier's offense on the sideline. Alabama is first in the SEC in time of possession, averaging 34:42, while South Carolina is 12th at 25:44.
Looking at individuals for Alabama, Tyrone Prothro ranks first in all-purpose yards (14 rushing, 147 receiving, 73 on punt returns, 156 on kickoff returns for an average of 195 yards per game). He is fifth in receiving yards per game at 73.5, while D.J. Hall is eighth at 68 yards per game.
Prothro is first in punt returns and second in kickoff returns.
Kenneth Darby is seventh in rushing, 84.5 yards per game.
Tim Castille is second in scoring at 12 points per game on the strength of four touchdowns.
Defensively, Mark Anderson leads the SEC in sacks (two and a half for 16 yards) and in tackles for loss (four and a half for 23 yards). Jeremy Clark is second and DeMeco Ryans ninth in sacks and Ryans is second in tackles for loss.