KENTUCKY vs. ALABAMA
WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 1, 7 p.m. ET
WHERE: Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821) Tuscaloosa, Ala.
RECORDS: Kentucky (2-2, 1-1 SEC); Alabama (4-0, 1-0 SEC)
COACHES: Kentucky Mark Stoops (4th year, 14-26); Alabama Nick Saban (10th year, 101-18)
RANKINGS: Alabama No. 1 AP, No. 1 Coaches Poll
LAST GAME: Kentucky defeated South Carolina 17-10 last week in Lexington; Alabama defeated Kent State 48-0 last week in Tuscaloosa.
LINE: Alabama -37.5
SERIES RECORD: Alabama leads 36-2-1 (9-0 in Tuscaloosa)
BIG BLUE KEYS TO THE GAME:
When Kentucky has the ball… The Wildcats have a tall order today as they face an Alabama defense ranked No. 14 nationally in both points allowed (14.8) and total offense (280.3) per game. The Crimson Tide are 5th nationally against the run, allowing only 67.5 yards per game and 2.35 yards per carry. Led by Boom Williams (8.0 ypc) and Benny Snell Jr (6.3 ypc), Kentucky has run the ball well this season, so this game will serve as a measuring stick for just how potent the UK ground game really is. The Cats' best chance to be competitive in this game is to shorten the contest and keep the clock moving with a methodical rushing attack, which is obviously a lot easier said than done. Keep an eye on Bama senior defensive end Jonathan Allen (No. 93, 6-3, 291, 4 QBH, 3 SK, 2 PBU) who is a disruptive force on the line of scrimmage. He could find himself matched up with UK freshman Landon Young at left tackle. Another good matchup is UK center Jon Toth vs Bama nose guard Da'Ron Payne (No. 92, 6-2, 319) two of the better players at their position in the nation. Senior safety Eddie Jackson (No. 4, 6-0, 194, 2 PBU, 1 INT, 1 TD) is a playmaker on the back end for the Tide, who have four defensive scores this season.
When Alabama has the ball… The Crimson Tide are clicking with a new quarterback, Jalen Hurts, on the offensive side of the ball. Hurts, a 6-foot-2, 209-pound freshman, is the kind of dual-threat quarterback that has given the Cats a major headache in recent years. He rushed for 146 yards and passed for 158 to lead Bama back from a 21-point deficit against Ole Miss. In the same game, former Berea (Ky.) Madison Southern All-American Damien Harris had a career-high 144 yards rushing. Kentucky ranks 100th nationally in rushing defense at 205 yards allowed per game, so Harris has to be licking his chops to test the Cats' front seven if he has fully recovered from an ankle sprain early in last week's game. Bama, the king of college football recruiting, has weapons all over the depth chart. Wide receivers Calvin Ridley (No. 3, 6-1, 188, 20 rec, 224 yd, 1 TD) and ArDarius Stewart (No. 13, 6-1, 204, 13 rec, 205 yd, 3 TD) are big playmaking challenges for UK corners Chris Westry and Derrick Baity. The Tide may also have the most dangerous tight end in the nation in the form of O.J. Howard, despite a modest 10 catches for 152 yards and one touchdown this season. Don't be fooled by any of the numbers for Bama, whose stars have to share the spotlight. The one that matters: 46.5 points per game.
Kentucky junior Garrett Johnson has 1,177 career receiving yards and needs 23 to tie Stevie Johnson for 21st all-time on the Cats' career receiving list.
ON THIS DAY IN UK HISTORY:
Kentucky defeated No. 4 Penn State on Oct. 1, 1977, under heavy rains in University Park, Pa. The Wildcats intercepted Nittany Lion quarterback Chuck Fusina three times, including one by Lexington native Dallas Owens that was returned for a touchdown. The Cats went on to win their last nine games and post a 10-1 record.
- Kentucky last defeated Alabama on Oct. 4, 1997, on an overtime touchdown pass from Tim Couch to Craig Yeast at Commonwealth Stadium.
- Alabama and Kentucky share football heritage with legendary head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant having led both programs.
- UK has never won in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
- The Cats have not beaten a No. 1 ranked team since knocking off LSU on Oct. 13, 2007, at Commonwealth Stadium.
- The Tide is riding a 16-game winning streak.
- Kentucky has four players from Alabama on its roster: DE/LB Denzil Ware (Opp), OG Logan Stenberg (Madison), DL Ja’Quize Cross (New Market) and K Austin MacGinnis (Wedowee).