Kentucky Football: Taking a look at #1 Alabama

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

Standing up to the Crimson Tide will be a major challenge for the Kentucky Wildcats.

Nick Saban stepped out from the shadow of Paul "Bear" Bryant last season after winning his second straight national championship. Alabama is favored to win its third straight this season. The Crimson Tide will be coming into Commonwealth Stadium favored by 27.5 points. Kentucky can claim a moral victory by beating the spread, if you're into moral victories.

So far this season the Tide has beaten Texas A&M 49-42 @ A&M, Colorado State 31-6, Mississippi 25-0 and Georgia State 45-3. According to Jeff Sagarin, Alabama has played the 33rd toughest schedule through Saturday's destruction of Georgia State. On the flip side, Kentucky's schedule now ranks as the 8th toughest after playing South Carolina.

For the hopeful, the dreamers, and the wishful thinkers, there is always the possibility of an upset.  There is precedent for such thoughts. In 2007, #1 ranked LSU came to town and lost in a three overtime game 43-37. Down came the goal posts. LSU went on to win a national championship.

Kentucky has played Alabama 18 times when Alabama was ranked. In 1997, Tim Couch completed a pass to Craig Yeast to beat #20 Alabama in overtime 40-34. That was Kentucky's first win over Alabama in 35 years. Down came the goal posts.

We've played Alabama twice since then. In 2008, Kentucky lost to #2 Alabama 17-14 and in 2009, we lost to #3 Alabama 38-20. If you go back through the years, Kentucky has given the Crimson Tide a fairly good game when we've played. The worst loss in not so recent memory was in 1980 when #1 Alabama beat the Wildcats 45-0. Back in 1972 in Birmingham (a game I attended), many believed we had a fighting chance because of Sonny Collins. Didn't happen. Kentucky lost 35-0. The UK alumni bus ride back to Atlanta was a long one.

In 1973, Bryant brought the #4 ranked Tide to Lexington's brand new stadium and beat us 28-14. If I recall correctly, Kentucky was ahead 14-0 at the half. They beat us again the following year 19-10. Our all time record against Alabama stands at 2-35-1. So, our probability of winning is pretty low.

Alabama (1st number and rank) vs Kentucky


Rushing Offense: 166.2 (69) 162.2 (71)

Passing Offense: 238.4 (62) 226.6 (71)

Passing Efficiency: 163.51 (14) 138.85 (54)

Red Zone Offense: 81.3% (t-74) 78.9% (t-84)

Scoring Offense: 37.0 (35) 23.0 (97)

Total Offense: 404.6 (70) 388.8 (84)

Tackles for Loss Allowed: 27 (t-51) 30 (t-71)

Sacks Allowed: 1.40 (t-42) 2.40 (t-90)

Time of possession: 33 (12) 26 (114)

3rd Down Conv. %: 42.4% (53) 27.6% (117)

4th Down Conv. %: 50.0% (t-48) 72.7% (t-11)

First Downs: 110 (65) 90 (t-105)


Rushing Defense: 85.8 (6) 196.2 (98)

Passing Defense: 214.0 (44) 195.0 (24)

Scoring Defense: 12.2 (t-4) 25.6 (59)

Passing Efficiency Defense: 117.44 (38) 147.95 (101)

Passes Intercepted: 4 (t-79) 1 (t-117)

Tackles for Loss: 5.2 (t-87) 4.0 (t-114)

Sacks: 1.20 (t-104) 2.40 (t-32)

Total Defense: 299.8 (12) 391.2 (59)

3rd Down Conv. %: 30.3% (22) 36.1% (41)

4th Down Conversion %: 20.0% (t-12) 80.0% (t-115)

First Downs: 71 (7) 96 (t-41)

Turnover Margin: +.6 (t-41) -.2 (t-83)

Net Punting: 40.65 (12) 34.00 (108)

Punt Returns: 14.0 (20) 7.82 (60)

Punt Return Defense: 7.50 (t-66) 6.90 (t-58)

Kickoff Returns: 24.45 (25) 24.43 (26)

Kickoff Return Defense: 17.59 (13) 17.50 (t-11)

Before anyone thinks that Kentucky matches up well with Alabama, keep in mind that they are bigger, stronger, faster and quicker than we are. Their Rivals recruiting rankings over the last five years shows how talented they are:

2009 #1

2010 #5

2011 #1

2012 #1

2013 #1

The probability of a Kentucky win approaches zero chance, but I suppose anything is possible. I just hope we can beat that spread.

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