Amidst three-week break, No. 1 Alabama pining for Kentucky
Top-ranked Alabama hasn’t played a game since Halloween and the Crimson Tide are planning to host Kentucky this week with an eye on bigger prizes than an undefeated regular season.
Alabama had its Nov. 14 game at LSU postponed due to an outbreak of COVID-19 among the Tigers.
That game could be rescheduled. For now the 6-0 Tide have their sights set on Kentucky, which visits Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Alabama’s high-powered offense is averaging 46.5 points per game at home, with an average of 555 yards per game over six contests. And on defense, Alabama shut out Mississippi State 41-0 in Tuscaloosa the last time out.
“We fully intend to be able to play this game and we certainly have enough players that are healthy enough to do that,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said Monday. “Physically we’ve been able to take care of our players, psychologically is the real challenge for them to be able to stay focused on the things that they need to do continue to improve and play at a high level, especially when we’re halfway through the season.”
Next week, Alabama is planning its usual holiday fare: the Iron Bowl, Nov. 28, vs. Auburn.
Running back Najee Harris has 718 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns, and senior wide receiver DeVonta Smith is the leading receiver with 56 catches for 759 yards including eight touchdowns.
Smith caught all four of quarterback Mac Jones’ touchdown passes against the Bulldogs. Jones has thrown for 2,196 yards and 16 touchdowns this season, and his passing yards are the most by any Alabama quarterback through the first six games of a season in program history.
The Tide have scored 35 or more points in 19 straight games, the longest streak in major college football history. Alabama has 29 straight wins over SEC East opponents, six in a row against the Wildcats and is 37-2-1 all-time against Kentucky.
The Wildcats (3-4) are coming off a 38-35 win over Vanderbilt last weekend, in which running back Chris Rodriguez rushed for a career high 149 yards on 13 carries, including two scores.
But Kentucky struggled to put away the Commodores, who faced two second-half deficits of 17 points before rallying to make it a tight game. The defensive effort didn’t sit well with Wildcats coach Mark Stoops.
“Defensively, terribly inconsistent,” Stoops said. “We have a lot of work to do. There’s no excuse. They want somebody else to make the play, they want some miraculous call to stop the play.”
Stoops is still waiting to see a good effort on both sides of the ball in the same game.
“We’re terribly inconsistent on one side or the other. We’ve not put it all together. It’s frustrating. I can promise you this, it’s not for lack of effort,” he said. “The sense of urgency needs to be greater, the attention to detail throughout an entire game needs to be greater.”
Rodriguez and his 568 rushing yards lead the Wildcats, while Josh Ali’s 34 catches and 343 yard lead the receivers. Senior quarterback Terry Wilson averages 119 passing yards and 56 rushing yards per game.
–Field Level Media