Western Carolina Catamounts at (1) Alabama Crimson Tide
Last weekend, the Alabama Crimson Tide (9-1, 6-1 SEC) upended the number one team in the nation, Mississippi State, and usurped the top ranking in the process. This Saturday, the Tide get a respite from the slog of the SEC and host the Western Carolina Catamounts (7-4, 5-2 Southern) at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa (4:00 p.m. Eastern on the SEC Network).
As it has done all season, the Alabama defense got the job done last week against Mississippi State. The Tide defenders stifled Heisman hopeful Dak Prescott and the rest of the Bulldogs for most of the game, forcing three turnovers and holding the Bulldogs to six points before two late touchdowns made the score respectable. The defensive dominance was nothing new for the Tide, who rank second in the nation in scoring, allowing just 14.5 points per game.
After the win, Nick Saban cryptically spoke of “energy vampires” and (like the rest of us, I’m sure) expressed relief that he doesn’t have any around him
“Basically, what I mean by that is as a head coach when you have energy vampires on your team who never do what they’re supposed to do and take all your energy as a coach,” Saban said on Monday. “So you’ve got five guys who take all your energy and never get to enjoy the other 95 guys who do everything right.
“We just don’t seem to have those guys on our team, and we seem to have a lot more guys that sort of like each other, buy in, try to help each other, want to do what’s best for the team. That’s always more fun to deal with as a coach.”
Western Carolina is one of the better teams in the Southern Conference. But the Southern Conference is one of the weakest in the country. The Catamounts have yet to face a ranked opponent all season, and have losses to South Florida, Cattanooga, and Samford. To give you some idea of what to expect, the Samford team that beat the Catamounts (34-20) was run out of the building by No. 5 TCU (48-14).
Saturday promises a similar – if not more lopsided – result.
(Photo credit: Matthew Tosh (Flickr: DSCF2192) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)