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Colorado State (1-2) at (1) Alabama (2-0)



Saturday, September 21, 7 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Scott Haynes, Senior College Football Editor

GAME NOTES: After clearing a huge hurdle in their quest for a third straight national championship, the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide play their first home game of the season, as they welcome the Colorado State Rams to Tuscaloosa for a non-conference clash at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Nick Saban's Crimson Tide went toe-to-toe with Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies last weekend in College Station and got some revenge for last year's only blemish on their record, topping A&M 49-42 in a classic shootout. With the team's top competition in the SEC West already out of the way, it could help clear the path for Alabama to claim its fourth national title in the last five years.

Saban was pleased with his team's ability to come from behind to earn the win in a hostile environment.

"There's obviously a lot of good things, the most important of which is to win a game in the SEC and our division against a really good team. Very pleased with the competitive character that we showed in the game on the road, getting down 14-0."

Jim McElwain is in his second season in Fort Collins as head coach of the Rams and hopes there is a hangover following Alabama's big game against Texas A&M, as Colorado State is taking a huge step up in competition, on the road no less. CSU dropped its first two games in 2013, with setbacks to Colorado (41-27) and Tulsa (30-27), but finally found its way into the win column with last weekend's 34-17 win over Cal Poly.

While McElwain is no stranger to the environment in Tuscaloosa, having served as offensive coordinator at Alabama from 2008 through 2011 and winning two national titles (2009, 2011), the Rams and Crimson Tide have never met on the football field prior to this matchup.

The Rams aren't exactly an offensive juggernaut and will have their hands full with Alabama's defense in this one. Colorado State comes into the contest averaging 29.3 ppg on 367.7 yards of total offense. Where the team has shown consistency is in the red zone, where CSU has scored on 11-of-12 opportunities.

Getting into the red zone against the Tide won't be easy for junior signal caller Garrett Grayson, who has completed 56.1 percent of his passes this season, for 606 yards and four touchdowns. Spreading the ball around as been the norm for the Rams in the first three games, as no receiver has stood out.

The ground game has provided some balance at 165.7 yards per game, as both senior Chris Nwoke (5.0 ypc, one TD) and sophomore Kapri Bibbs (5.7 ypc, three TDs) have had success.

While the offense has been proficient in the red zone, the CSU defense has not. The Rams have allowed opponents to score on 9-of-10 opportunities inside the 20-yard line. Overall, Colorado State has struggled to stop both the run (175.7 ypg) and the pass (258.7 ypg), not a good sign with the explosive Crimson Tide on deck.

Junior linebackers Aaron Davis (26 tackles) and Max Morgan (24 tackles) have been productive in the middle of the defense. Redshirt freshman safety Kevin Pierre-Louis has exceeded expectations in the early going of his career, tied with Morgan in stops (24) through three games. Senior end Shaquil Barrett (21 tackles) has been a force in the backfield, leading the Rams in both TFL (7) and sacks (2).

Manziel may have had a huge game against Alabama statistically, but in the end, it was A.J. McCarron's mistake-free football that led the Tide to victory. Alabama's savvy signal caller has seen and done it all in his career in Tuscaloosa, and is the school's all-time leader in TD passes (54), a number he reached with a career-high 334 yards and four TD strikes against the Aggies.

Despite a shaky offensive performance in the opener against Virginia Tech, Alabama is still averaging 42.0 ppg through two games.

The numbers should start to stabilize considering the talent on the offensive side of the ball. Sophomore tailback T.J. Yeldon is the school's next workhorse. He is responsible for 42 of the team's 75 carries thus far and is averaging 5.3 yards per touch and 112.0 yards per game on the ground.

McCarron's outlets down the field are plentiful as well, headlined by Amari Cooper (six catches, 72 yards) and DeAndrew White (six catches, 96 yards, one TD).

The numbers will always be skewed a little bit when having to play against last year's Heisman Trophy winner, but make no mistake about it, Alabama's defense is still a formidable unit.

The squad has lost a number of defensive All-Americans over the last couple of seasons, but a revolving door of talent has helped assuage the losses. This season, the leader is unquestionably All-American linebacker C.J. Mosley, who is a favorite to earn the Butkus Award in 2013. The 6-foot-2 senior has done little to doubt that in the first two games, posting an impressive 19 stops thus far. Landon Collins (12 tackles), Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (12 tackles) and Vinnie Sunseri (eight tackles, two interceptions) highlight the play in a formidable secondary. Sunseri has been clutch in both victories this season, becoming the first Alabama player to return interceptions for touchdowns in back-to-back games since Antonio Langham in 1992.

The euphoria surrounding Alabama's big win over Texas A&M will not dissipate this week. Instead it should only get stronger as the Crimson Tide open up their home slate in front of what is expected to be an appreciative fan base.

McElwain knows Alabama will be prepared.

"Getting ready to play this game, one of the things I know from being there is that there is no letdown. People could point out that they just had that huge win over a nationally-ranked team. One of the things that they do as well as anybody in the country does is that it doesn't matter who you're playing, it's about playing against yourself. It's about how you do every single day, in every single snap to get better. They will use some things from that; I'm sure the numbers there put up by A&M and by that quarterback, they'll use that motivation to come back this week and try to shut us out."

Colorado State not only lacks the personnel on either side of the ball to prevent a lopsided score, but the Rams could be playing with heavy hearts considering the devastating flooding that has taken place in their home state.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Alabama 47, Colorado State 7

09/18 10:37:54 ET

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7:00pm Tonight
CAR
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Final
ORL 100
MIL 115
Final
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NYK 82
Final
MEM 99
DEN 69
Final
LAL 123
CHI 118
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
MIN
 
7:30pm Tonight
BOS
HOU
 
7:30pm Tonight
ATL
POR
 
7:30pm Tonight
CLE
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7:30pm Tonight
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8:00pm Tonight
MIA
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8:00pm Tonight
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9:00pm Tonight
UTA
GSW
 
10:30pm Tonight
PHO
CHI
 
Final
PROV 83
DEP 72
Final
RUTG 51
MSU 71
Final
ARMY 71
BU 67
 
Final
RFLSH 75
BRY 68
 
Final
MERC 75
CHAT 72
 
Final
LIU 67
CCST 55
 
Final
TOWS 74
COC 70
 
Final
UMASS 66
DAY 64
Final
FUR 59
ETST 55
 
Final
ODU 71
FIU 56
Final
RMU 87
FD 65
 
Final
CHAR 86
FATL 61
Final
LIB 53
HIGH 72
 
Final
UNF 86
KNST 67
 
Final
FLGC 78
LIP 62
 
Final
OSU 80
MD 56
Final
Terriers 73
MNTER 67
 
Final
STET 85
NKENTUCKY 75
 
Final
WAGN 75
SHU 64
 
Final
GMAS 68
STLU 60
Final
JVU 65
USCU 78
 
Final
VMI 70
WCU 85
 
Final
LATU 69
WKENT 56
Final
UNCG 42
WOFF 58
 
Final
DET 93
YOUNG 87
 
Final
GSOUT 83
APP 46
 
Final
TENNM 81
EILL 51
 
Final
GHND 64
HC 54
 
Final
CIN 70
UCONN 58
Final
NDST 61
DEN 54
 
Final
SD 55
MAST 66
 
Final
UWMIL 71
ILLCH 65
 
Final
BEL 103
JVST 82
 
Final
SMISS 54
MARS 69
Final
TXSA 69
MTST 58
Final
PETE 49
RIDE 58
 
Final
SEMIZ 61
SIUE 75
 
Final
TENST 64
TENT 56
 
Final
NDAK 60
WEBER 67
 
Final
SALA 89
LALAF 85
 
Final
ARKST 65
ARKLR 75
 
Final
TROY 55
LAMON 58
 
Final
TXARL 74
UGST 88
 
Final
MURST 85
EKENT 78
 
Final
NCOL 79
IDST 76
 
Final
MIZZ 53
KENT 69
Final
GONZ 64
PORT 46
Final
UTEP 71
UAB 69
Final
GRCN 78
UMKC 57
 
Final
WLVRN 78
CHIST 62
 
Final
USC 94
COL 98
Final
UCI 67
CPSL 57
 
Final
CSNO 73
HAW 84
 
Final
PAC 43
PEPP 50
 
Final
SDU 69
SCU 64
 
Final
UCD 70
UCSB 64
 
Final
UCLA 69
UTAH 59
Final
PORST 54
MONT 73
 
Final
SACST 75
MNTST 59
 
Final
CSFU 85
LBSU 91
 
Final
GAELS 68
LMU 54
 
Final
WASU 67
CAL 76
Final
BYU 78
USF 74
 
6:00pm Tonight
PRIN
HARV
 
7:00pm Tonight
CORN
BRO
 
7:00pm Tonight
PENN
DART
 
7:00pm Tonight
NIAG
MAR
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAN
QUIN
 
7:00pm Tonight
MAN
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8:00pm Tonight
WILL
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8:00pm Tonight
FAIR
MON
 
8:00pm Tonight
ARST
OREG
 
8:00pm Tonight
CLMB
YALE
 
10:00pm Tonight
BUF
KSU
 
10:00pm Tonight
ARZ
ORST
 
Final
NYI 2
BOS 5
Final
NYR 0
MON 1
Final
PHI 5
WIN 2
Final
TOR 1
ARI 3
Final
FLA 3
CLB 2
Final
TAM 5
DET 1
Final
STL 5
NAS 4
Final
CAL 0
MIN 1
Final
EDM 3
BUF 2
Final
SJS 6
ANA 3
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
PIT
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
STL
 
9:00pm Tonight
COL
NAS
 
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
BUF
 
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
CHI