The Alabama Crimson Tide enjoyed their bye week while other teams vying for the No. 1 ranking fell by the wayside. A road trip to Mizzou looms, but Nick Saban's bunch will be well-rested and will roll to its third shutout of the season.
Against an inept Tigers offense with no true starter under center, the Tide will be licking their chops. The Tigers have had a bit of a nightmare start in their first season of SEC football, starting out 0-3 in conference play.
Mizzou will have to avoid getting off to a bad start—particularly against a team vying for a national title repeat—if their 2012 track record is any indication. According to a report by the Associated Press (via FoxSports.com), Mizzou has allowed just 27 points in the first and third quarters, but 120 in the second and fourth quarters.
This plays well into the hands of the devastating, physical Crimson Tide running attack, led by the junior-freshman duo of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon, both tall, bruising backs. Yeldon has lived up to the hype as a 5-star recruit and one of the elite running back prospects in the country, averaging nearly six yards per carry.
Based on the Tigers' defensive scoring trends by the quarter, Alabama will likely be able to establish the run early on, chewing up tons of clock and putting Mizzou in an early hole.
Last week, Tigers starting QB James Franklin was knocked out of the Vanderbilt game with what the USA Today reports is a sprained knee. That pits freshman Corbin Berkstresser in the saddle against the nation's top scoring defense, yielding just seven points per game.
Berkstresser passed for 189 yards and a TD in the 19-15 loss to Vanderbilt, but was just 9-for-30. Imagine what Alabama's secondary will do to him with that kind of accuracy.
School spirit may be high when they host the top-ranked team in the nation on Saturday, but maybe only for the first quarter or so.
Faurot Field may also become a more hostile home environment for Mizzou players than they're accustomed to. AL.com reporter Andrew Gribble noted a funny trend that developed after the Tigers blew their home contest against the Commodores:
After Missouri lost to Vanderbilt, hotel reservations opened up for Alabama weekend (link) bit.ly/UQ4gT5— Andrew Gribble (@Andrew_Gribble) October 12, 2012
Nothing about this matchup bodes well for Gary Pinkel and the Tigers. Their offense is only putting up 25 points per game, which isn't exactly on par with the Brad Smith-orchestrated glory days.
Alabama will load up the box to stuff the running game and make Berkstresser keep the Tigers competitive with his arm. Although the spread offense could create problems for Alabama, it's unlikely that the freshman QB will be able to execute the plays well enough to keep the Tide on their heels.
Multiple turnovers seem to be in Berkstresser's future. Meanwhile, counterpart A.J. McCarron hasn't thrown an interception all season.
To recap: Alabama will bleed the clock early with a great running game, with McCarron making smart throws and putting points on the board. McCarron won't turn it over; Berkstresser will. Thus, more short fields for the Tide and more points.
This one could get ugly quickly. It should result in the Tide's third shutout of 2012, further solidifying their status as the best team in college football.