On Saturday, No. 8 Alabama (8-1, 6-0 SEC) will travel to Lexington to play Kentucky (6-3, 3-3 SEC) for the first time since 2013.
This will be the 42nd meeting between the two teams with the Crimson Tide holding a 38-2-1 advantage all time. The Crimson Tide are riding a seven-game win streak over the Wildcats and looking for an eighth straight.
With a win on Saturday over Kentucky, Alabama would clinch the SEC West.
Here are five things to watch this Saturday as Alabama tries to clinch the SEC West.
Avoiding the Trap Game
Saturday’s match against Kentucky has all the ingredients of a trap game for the Crimson Tide: an SEC road game with an early kickoff for an Alabama team coming off the biggest win of the season. Coming off two straight wins against ranked opponents, Alabama will be faced with a physical Kentucky team ready to play the Crimson Tide like it’s their Super Bowl. To keep their goals alive, Alabama will have to make sure to avoid the "relief syndrome" that Nick Saban talked about earlier in the week.
The best way to take the crowd out of a game is to score early. No matter what the kickoff time has been this season, Alabama has struggled on their opening possession. Out of nine opening drives this season, Alabama has scored on just two of those possessions. Earlier in the week, Saban blamed the early struggles on a lack of execution on offense.
Stopping the Run
So far this season, Alabama has done a great job at stopping the run, outside of last week’s 163 yards allowed to LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels. This week, the Crimson Tide won’t have to worry about a dynamic runner at the quarterback, but they will have their hands full with Kentucky running back Ray Davis. Davis is second in the SEC in rushing yards with 903 on the season. Stopping Davis will be key as the Kentucky offense runs through him.
Can Will Reichard Bounce Back?
Kicker Will Reichard went into last weekend perfect on kicks, but his perfect season came to an end. Reichard missed a pair of field goals, finishing the game 0-for-2. While Alabama would like to see the offense score touchdowns and not field goals, an easy chip shot could be good for Reichard to gain back some confidence.
On Thursday Reichard was named a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award that is given out to the nation’s best kicker.
Will the Offense Continue to Stay Hot?
Last week’s offensive game plan was magnificent. It didn’t matter the caliber of defense that was out there, Jalen Milroe for the first time looked comfortable. Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees dialed up designed runs for Milroe that were executed to perfection. Milroe finally made good decisions to take off running with the ball and not stay in the pocket for too long. Kentucky’s defense will be a bit more of a test than LSU so it will be interesting if Milroe and the Crimson Tide offense can stay in rhythm and build on the momentum from last week.
Alabama will attempt to punch a ticket to the SEC Championship Game Saturday at 11:00 a.m. CT in Lexington, Ky.
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