Alabama vs Western Kentucky Staff Predictions
Sandwiched between USC and Ole Miss for the Crimson Tide's schedule, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers come to Tuscaloosa with a chip on their proverbial shoulders. After going 12-2 last season, head coach Jeff Brohm will hope to catch Alabama sleep walking before the big showdown Alabama and Ole Miss in Oxford, MS next week.
This isn't your usual Power 5 vs Group of 5 match-up. Western Kentucky had one of the most explosive offenses in the country last season, and they return some serious weapons, including All-CUSA receiver and Biletnikoff semifinalist Taywan Taylor, who amassed 1467 yards on just 86 catches in 2015. If there's one area where Alabama has been consistently weak over the years (I use "weak" for a lack of a better word), it's been in pass defense.
Will Alabama take care of business, or will the Hilltoppers take down the top-ranked Tide and show the college football world that they are serious contenders?
Martin Houston, Host of The Morning Blitz
The Crimson Tide head into week 2 on the momentum of a 52-6 victory over the USC Trojans. Jalen Hurts emerged as the true front runner for the QB job, but Coach Saban vows to keep developing Barnett as well. Look for a repeat caliber performance from Hurts, and add to that an offensive line that will continue to improve in run and pass blocking, and the running backs should turn in a solid performance. Keep an eye on Bo Scarbrough to look a little more comfortable, because if not, Emmons and Jacobs are waiting in the wings to show what they can do. The Hilltoppers will try to test the defense early through the air, but will not find much success, due to the smothering coverage of Humphrey and company and their laser fast pass rush. The Tide will roll again due to building depth on offense and defense. Alabama 48, WKU 20
Wimp Sanderson, Co-Host of Inside the Locker Room
Look for Bama to play a lot of guys to find out about depth. They will play things close to the vest and not give Ole Miss to much information. Alabama 34, WKU 6
Barry Sanderson, Co-Host of Inside the Locker Room
I look for the QB's to look much more comfortable from start to finish playing in front of the home crowd. WKU will find this defense very difficult to move the ball on. Look for WKU to get on board late with the starters for Bama on the bench. Alabama 48, WKU 10
Aaron Suttles, Host of The Suttles Approach
Alabama's defense is flat-out nasty. The speed is one element, the physical dominance is another and then there is the overall nastiness of this group. Alabama 38, WKU 10
Travis Reier, Host of Southern Fried Sports
As Nick Saban has emphasized since the start of game week, the Hilltoppers are a legitimate top 25-ish opponent. Specifically, Jeff Brohm's team presents major challenges for most opponents on the defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately for WKU, it's primary strength -- pass game -- plays into one of the biggest strengths for the Alabama defense: the pass rush. There are matchups the Tops can exploit in Alabama's nickel and dime packages. WKU quarterback Mike White having the time needed to take advantage of those opportunities is where the problem will come in for the visitors. Alabama 41, WKU 17
Gary Harris, Host of The Gary Harris Show
Don't sleep on this Western Kentucky squad. Coach Jeff Brohm's Hilltoppers won 8 games in 2014 and 12 games last season along with the Conference USA Championship. In the season opener, WKU quarterback Mike White threw for more than 500 yards as the Hilltoppers blew out the Rice Owls 46-14. Yes, Alabama is better but this opponent will not go down without a fight. Western was a Top 25 team a year ago and may wind up being one again this year. Alabama 34, WKU 13
Ryan Fowler, Host of The Game
Western Kentucky is no contest for Alabama. However, Alabama's young players need valuable live reps, look for them to play late in the game. This will increase scoring. Alabama 42, WKU 7
Ben George, Digital Managing Editor
Alabama made USC quit a week ago, but the final score doesn’t accurately reflect how well the Crimson Tide actually played. For that reason, I think the line might be a touch high this week. Nick Saban should still give multiple quarterbacks and running backs a chance in this game, which might keep the offense from scoring a ton of points. Defensively, the combination of speed and ability to rush the passer will give Western Kentucky fits on a hot Saturday afternoon. Alabama 41, WKU 13
James Hardy, Producer
Last season, Western Kentucky possessed one of the top passing and scoring offenses in the country. However, they don’t see defenses like Alabama’s every week. The Hilltoppers have enough weapons to put points on the board but don’t have the depth to compete for 60 minutes against the Crimson Tide. Alabama 38, WKU 14
Ryan McMunn, Producer
Alabama easily handled USC this past Saturday amongst all the brouhaha surrounding the "greatest weekend of college football ever," and then we're blessed with a Week 2 of no Top 25 match-ups at all (you can just feel the sarcasm in those words). Western Kentucky isn't a team to take lightly, and they are built to light up the scoreboard with potential All-American receiver Taywan Taylor, but they are still outmatched and outclassed against the best team in college football. Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin doesn't have an axe to grind against the Hilltoppers (that we know of), so don't expect the score to this game to be close to last week's USC blowout. But it'll still be utter domination. Alabama 42, WKU 19