College breakdown: Chattanooga (8-3) at No. 1 Alabama (10-0)
by Marq Burnett
mburnett@annistonstar.com
Nov 22, 2013 | 1363 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When: 1:05 p.m., today

Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

Line: Alabama by 48.5.

TV: Pay-per-view

Radio: 95.5 FM

Four-down territory

1. A tribute:
Alabama will have 16 players participating in a ceremony to honor the team’s seniors. So what better way to honor some of these players than by letting them start the game Saturday? A lot of the seniors such as C.J. Mosley, AJ McCarron, Deion Belue, Ed Stinson and Anthony Steen already start, but what about the walk-ons? These are guys who’ve dedicated the last four or five years of their lives to this program and they should be rewarded. It would be a small token of appreciation. A simple way to show the players who don’t get a lot of credit that they are important. It would mean a ton to their families and friends. Basketball teams do it all the time. Certainly, the team could stick these guys in for a snap or two so they can actually say they played in a game.

2. Let them sit out: If there is any player with any hint of an injury, they should sit out on Saturday. This is a game of rhythm and chemistry, but if they don’t have it by now, they’re probably not going to. This is the perfect opportunity to rest guys like T.J. Yeldon (ankle), Brian Vogler (ankle), O.J. Howard (knee) and Deion Belue (toe). It’s not like Alabama needs them to win. With the Iron Bowl coming up and not having another bye week, Alabama should rest some of its key players to ensure they are healthy for the showdown on the plains.

3. Sitting at No. 1: The Crimson Tide has occupied the No. 1 ranking in the past 14 Associated Press polls, and it would be a shock to the college football world if the Tide loses to Chattanooga and isn’t No. 1 on Sunday. At 15 straight polls at No. 1, Alabama will trail only Southern California (33 straight in 2003-05), Miami (21 straight in 2001-02), USC (18 in 1972-73) and Florida State (17 in 1999). Alabama has 70 all-time appearances at No. 1 in the AP poll. Oklahoma is first with 101.

4. Best ever?: Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron’s 35 career wins equal Jay Barker’s school record set in 1991-94. He undoubtedly will break that today. McCarron already owns school records for career passing yards (8,184), touchdowns (70) and consecutive passes without an interception (291). He has two national championships and if Alabama wins out, he’ll have won three straight. If you judge strictly on college accomplishment, McCarron is the best quarterback in Alabama history. He has the stats and the hardware to back it up, and if he completes this current run, people will have to include him in the conversation of the greatest quarterback in college football history. Either way, Alabama’s next quarterback will have a lot to live up to.

Key matchup

Backup quarterback Blake Sims vs. Chattanooga:
Sims likely will play a good bit today, and even though Chattanooga is an FCS school, every time Sims steps on the field, he is auditioning for next year’s starting quarterback job. He has completed 16 of 25 passes this year with no interceptions and a pair of touchdowns. He has attempted only 11 rushes for 40 yards. This is a reversal of a year ago when he rarely threw. He attempted only 10 passes in 2012 but ran the ball 30 times for 187 yards.

Prediction

This is really nothing more than a glorified scrimmage. ... Alabama 48, Chattanooga 6.
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