Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Georgia State Panthers Complete Game Preview
Has there ever been a meeting of two more opposite FBS football teams?
Georgia State is in the midst of its first season of playing at the highest level of college football while Alabama is arguably the most successful FBS program of all time.
The Panthers will travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the second time in school history on Saturday. The Panthers visited Tuscaloosa in 2010, during Georgia State's inaugural season, losing, 63-7.
The gap hasn't exactly narrowed since then. The Crimson Tide have won two BCS national championships since that night. Georgia State is 0-4 in its first season in the FBS.
Alabama is coming off of a 25-0 shutout of Ole Miss, arguably the Crimson Tide's most complete performance this season. Meanwhile, Georgia State lost in overtime, 32-26, to Jacksonville State two weeks ago.
This would certainly be the biggest upset in college football in quite some time should the Panthers do the unthinkable.
Here's everything you need to know:
Time: 11:21 a.m. CT
Place: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network, GSU Radio Network
Spread: Alabama by 55-56 points, according to Vegas Insider.
Alabama Keys to Victory
Don't get complacent
Alabama beat Colorado State, 31-6, in its last cupcake, non-conference game, but its fans weren't satisfied. The Crimson Tide doesn't get 100 percent amped up for every game, but that's nearly impossible to do over a 12-game schedule. However, a little too much of a slip-up here could be costly.
If we're being honest, that's about all it's going to take for Alabama to romp. Georgia State might we worse than half the teams in the FCS right now, so Alabama should have no problem in dispatching the Panthers.
Georgia State Keys to Victory
Play a perfect game
Or something really, really close to it. That's about the only way the Panthers can pull off the impossible. But even that might not be enough.
Georgia State needs one, or all, of the following to have a chance: a couple of fumbles roll right into their arms, a couple of AJ McCarron passes get tipped right into the hands of Panthers defenders, or have Alabama's bus break down on the way to the stadium. It's going to take a lot of plain luck to unseat the Crimson Tide.
Players to Watch for Alabama
I'm going to assume this one's a blowout and backups see significant playing time. Here are a couple of players I'd like to get a closer look at.
The Alabama freshman running back has separated himself from the stud group that coach Nick Saban signed this year. Tenpenny has beaten out fellow freshman Derrick Henry for the No. 4 job behind T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and Jalston Fowler.
The five-star linebacker has played sparingly in mop-up duty, but has been a headhunter in the limited action he's seen. With the Panthers preferring to run the ball, Foster should have plenty of opportunities to make plays should he get on the field.
The presumed heir apparent to AJ McCarron hasn't seen the field this year. The quicker Blake Sims has taken the No. 2 snaps at quarterback in games, mostly running read option-type plays. But fans are eager to get a glimpse of the player many feel is the long-term future at quarterback.
Players to Watch for Georgia State
Wilson scored the Panthers' only points against Alabama three years ago as a freshman on a kickoff return for a touchdown. Now a senior, Wilson will surely be looking to get on the scoreboard for a second time in Tuscaloosa. Wilson is also averaging 19.6 yards per catch, tops among active players in the FBS.
The senior running back ran for a career-high 118 yards on just 12 carries against West Virginia, becoming only the third player in Georgia State history to rush for 100 or more yards in a game.
What They're Saying
We get to play Alabama, and we’re fired up about that,” Head Coach Trent Miles said. “How can you not be excited to play the No. 1 team in the nation…I’m ready to knuckle it up with Nick Saban.
It’s Alabama, They have strong backs that are going to have decent vision and make good decisions. But we’ve played big backs before, I’ve played big backs before. It’s about making sure we wrap up and it’s about playing physical.
Once you get that physicality instilled, we’re on a level playing field.
Alabama backup center Chad Lindsay wasn't worried about having to step in to replace Ryan Kelly last week, according to Michael Casagrande of al.com:
I wouldn't call it nerves, I'd call it excitement. I had a chance to go out there and do your thing.
We’re just doing a walk-through and stretch and stride. We do this every so often on Mondays so the players get two days off practice. We still do all the things that we do mentally as far as the scouting report, game plan that we put in Monday, whatever those things are.
Alabama 49, Georgia State 0
As I've said in this space before, Nick Saban just doesn't run up the score on teams, especially in non-conference games like this.
That won't change this week.
Alabama fans will have a happy homecoming while watching their team cruise to victory in a pressure-free situation. Both teams will get what they want—a win for Alabama and a paycheck for Georgia State—and then go their separate ways.