When the Kentucky Wildcats visit Tuscaloosa this Saturday, the University of Alabama will be celebrating its 96th homecoming football game. The Tide are 81-13-1 in homecoming games but have not had a loss since 2001—back when head coach Nick Saban was on the opponent’s sideline. The game can be seen on ESPN and is scheduled to start at 6:00 pm CST.
Alabama will be trying to move to 5-0 on Saturday night in a game that seems like one of the biggest mismatches of the season. As kickoff closes in, I make some final predictions on what will happen in the Crimson Tide’s 2016 homecoming game.
Alabama’s defense gets five or more sacks without Tim Williams.
Williams has not officially been ruled out for this game but I believe Coach Saban will keep him off the field without knowing the full situation yet. That being said, Alabama has plenty of other defensive players that will be able to get around the edge and have a big day against the Kentucky offensive line. The Wildcats have allowed 3.75 sacks per game this season while facing just one team in the nation’s top 50 in pass rush. Alabama is led by Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson but I expect to see Rashaan Evans and Christian Miller to be playmakers in the game tonight.
Jalen Hurts rushes for more than the Kentucky offense.
Without Blake Barnett as a backup, Hurts may see less designed runs than he has in the last two games. Kentucky’s offense has looked better over the last two games and it has been through the success of the run game. However, Alabama’s defensive front has stayed strong all season with the exception of just a few plays. The Wildcats allowed 70 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground to New Mexico State’s quarterback two weeks ago. So I expect Hurts to be able to hit the century-mark on the ground for the second time this season.
Calvin Ridley finishes with more receptions than all other Tide receivers combined.
I do not feel that confident in this one but something in my gut tells me Ridley is ready for his breakout game. I expect Alabama to do most of their offensive damage with the running game so it may not take too many receptions for this to happen. If there is a strong point to the Kentucky defense, it is the secondary. Which is not great, as the Wildcats allow 258 passing yards per game and more than 8 yards per pass attempt. I think Ridley is heavily featured in screens while having a deep ball or two thrown his way. I have Ridley finishing with 12 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.
Alabama wins easy but does not cover the spread.
The Crimson Tide are 35.5-point favorites in most betting places coming into today. Kentucky’s defense is definitely susceptible to give up that many points but today feels like the “ugly” win that Alabama seems to have every year in October. If you’re a fan, you’d much rather play the ugly game today than sometime over the next three weeks. I think the Crimson Tide’s defense gets most of the work done, maybe getting an extra score or two to cover that spread. Alabama 34, Kentucky 7
Caleb Turrentine is a columnist and contributor at Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He also does work for Alabama’s team page at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @CalebTurrentine.