Kentucky-Alabama: Wildcats Try to Turn the Tide

c dockensCorrespondent IOctober 2, 2008

This weekend the Kentucky Wildcats will travel to Tuscaloosa to take on the Crimson Tide. Kentucky is off to a hot start and comes into this game undefeated (4-0) with a big win against in-state rival Louisville.

Alabama likewise is off to a phenomenal start (5-0), upsetting No. 9 Clemson to begin the season and burying Georgia last week in Athens. The Tide is the talk of the nation. Their current spot in the polls, No. 2, is their highest in 15 years.

The Rich Brooks era in Lexington is now in full swing. After back-to-back losing years to begin his tenure, Brooks has the Wildcats program on the way to the top. Kentucky is coming off an 8-5 record last year and its second Music City Bowl victory in two years.

However, the Wildcats are coming to Tuscaloosa without last year’s star quarterback, Andre' Woodson, who they lost to the NFL. Last season, Woodson led Kentucky to a miraculous comeback victory in triple overtime against eventual national champions LSU.

Keenan Burton, another key player from last year, is also in the NFL. Burton was the favorite target of Andre' Woodson.

Despite losing key offensive players, Kentucky averages 31.5 points per game. The Wildcats defense leads the nation in points allowed, a minuscule 5.5.

Nick Saban has put his mark on Alabama. Bama went 7-6 last year, with several of their losses coming in the final seconds. The Tide’s biggest issue last year was that they struggled to play 60 minutes of football—something they have greatly improved upon this year.

Perhaps the Tide’s biggest stride came in the form of the play of senior quarterback John Parker Wilson. Wilson, who threw 12 interceptions last year, has only thrown one so far this year, and his completion percentage is 7.5 percent higher this season.

Also, the Crimson Tide’s defensive front, led by the hulking junior college transfer Terrence Cody, is allowing an average of only 54 yards per game, while the Bama rushing attack has racked up 1,096 yards and 13 touchdowns.

The matchup between these two teams appears to be evenly matched. However, you have to take into account the strength of each team’s schedule. Alabama has beaten two former top 10 teams, No. 9 Clemson and No. 3 Georgia, and both on the road. However, Kentucky has played the likes of Middle Tennessee and Norfolk State.

When it is all said and done and the dust clears from Bryant–Denny stadium, the Crimson Tide will have beaten the Kentucky Wildcats just as convincingly as they have handled their previous five opponents.