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45


Georgia State (0-4) at (1) Alabama (4-0)



Saturday, October 5, 12:21 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Scott Haynes, Senior College Football Editor

GAME NOTES: It's Homecoming in Tuscaloosa this weekend, as the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide play host to the Georgia State Panthers.

The two-time defending champion has opened the 2013 season with four straights wins, including victories over sixth-ranked Texas A&M (49-42) and most recently, 21st-ranked Ole Miss (25-0) in SEC West action. Nick Saban's team has won three of the last four national titles overall and has positioned itself to play for another one, heading into the second half of the season.

The Panthers are in their inaugural season of FBS play and are obviously taking a huge step up in competition this week. Trent Miles' squad has dropped four straight games to begin his tenure with the squad, three of which have come against FCS foes Samford (31-21), Chattanooga (42-14) and most recently, Jacksonville State (32-26 OT). The lone FBS foe on the docket resulted in a 41-7 drubbing at West Virginia. Georgia State was idle last week.

The overtime loss to Jacksonville State last time out wasn't easy to take according to Miles.

"That last game was a tough game. We felt we had a chance to win the game, but we didn't get it done. When you lose a game and then have to wait a long time to play, it's hard, but we had a great open week."

Miles knows what he's up against this weekend in Tuscaloosa.

"They are impressive in everything they do. They're so big, physical, fast and well-coached," Miles said of the Crimson Tide. "But we're excited to go play and compete against the best."

This marks the second meeting between these two programs. The first matchup took place in 2010, a 63-7 rout by Alabama.

The Panthers aren't exactly an offensive juggernaut in their first season at the FBS level. The team is averaging 346.5 yards per game, with the most success coming via the pass (249.5 ypg). However, sustaining drives hasn't been a strength, with GSU converting just 36 percent of the time on third down.

Sophomore quarterback Ronnie Bell has struggled with consistency, completing just 46.0 percent of his passes, for 774 yards (193.5 ypg), with five touchdowns and three interceptions. Bell is looking the way of Albert Wilson more often than not and for good reason. The 5-foot-9 senior wide receiver is averaging over 114 yards receiving per game, leading the team in receptions (22), receiving yards (457) and TD catches (4).

The ground game averages a modest 97.0 yards per game, led by senior tailback Travis Evans' 188 yards (4.5 ypc).

The Panthers have really had problems defensively this season, getting gashed by both the run (218.2 ypg) and the pass (249.8 ypg). Opponents have scored on 82 percent of their red zone trips (14-of-17) and 65 percent of the time it results in a touchdown (11-of-17). Big plays have been few and far between, with Georgia State recording just five sacks and four takeaways thus far.

Sophomore linebacker Tarris Batiste leads the team in total tackles (24) and TFL (4.5). Senior safety Rashad Stewart is a close second in stops (23). Senior cornerback Brent McClendon (20 tackles) is responsible for half of the team's takeaways, with one interception and one fumble recovery.

It wasn't a typical offensive performance by Alabama, but the team did ride a strong rushing effort from T.J. Yeldon to a big victory over Ole Miss last week. Yeldon rushed for 121 yards, including a 68-yard TD-scamper.

All-American quarterback AJ McCarron didn't have a particularly strong game against the Rebels, but has still be solid overall this season, completing 68.2 percent of his throws, for 882 yards and six touchdowns. There are several threats in the vertical game, including Christion Jones (17 catches, 210 yards, one TD) and DeAndrew White (11 catches, 167 yards, two TDs). They have stepped up in the absence of sophomore star Amari Cooper, who has struggled to get on the field.

Still, like in year's past, Alabama dominates up front and can grind games out with a steady rushing attack. In 2013, it is Yeldon that leads the charge, averaging 6.0 ypc and pacing the team with 394 yards and three TDs.

What was normal last week against Ole Miss was the defensive effort for Alabama, which held the usually potent Rebels (490 ypg) to a meager 205 total yards.

On the season, opponents are averaging a mere 14.5 ppg against UA, including just 103.5 yards rushing. All-American linebacker C.J. Mosley is the heart- and-soul of the unit. The 6-2, 232-pound senior leads the Crimson Tide in total tackles by a large margin with 35 stops. All-American candidate Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (6-1, 208-pound safety) is second on the team in tackles (24) from the safety position. However, Clinton-Dix was suspended indefinitely this week for a violation of team rules. Junior safety Vinnie Sunseri (15 tackles, two interceptions) is another playmaker in the Alabama secondary and will need to elevate his game even more with Clinton-Dix not on the field.

Despite the obvious mismatch in this game, Saban knows his team needs to stay focused.

"There is nothing to be taken for granted in any team that you play. I think the best way to do that is focus on who you are, what you're doing, how you want to improve and how you want to play to be the best player that you can be. That is certainly going to be our focus for this week."

The reality is that this contest should afford Saban the ability to empty his bench and get a lot of backups much needed playing time.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Alabama 63, Georgia State 3

10/03 08:02:18 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14
 
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
Final
SFG 11
KAN 4
8:07pm Tonight
SFG
KAN
 
Final
WISC 52
MD 7
Final
SMU 10
MEM 48
Final
ILL 28
MINN 24
Final
RICE 41
UNT 21
Final
NEB 42
RUTG 24
Final
KST 23
TEX 0
Final
ARK 45
UAB 17
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
EMICH 17
NILL 28
Final
NAVY 41
SJST 31
Final
BST 35
AKR 21
Final
GASTATE 31
GASO 69
Final
TOL 42
UMASS 35
Final
WMICH 42
OHIO 21
Final
COL 37
UCLA 40
Final
UMO 10
KSU 3
Final
WAKE 17
BC 23
Final
BUF 14
CMICH 20
Final
MARS 35
FATL 16
Final
PITT 28
GT 56
Final
SMISS 20
LATU 31
Final
MSU 35
MICH 11
Final
KENT 31
MSST 45
Final
STAN 38
ORST 14
Final
TCU 82
TTU 27
Final
OKST 10
WVU 34
Final
WKENT 66
ODU 51
Final
UTST 34
UNLV 20
Final
MIZZ 24
VANDY 14
Final
UCF 34
TEMPL 14
Final
WASU 37
ARZ 59
Final
CLEM 16
SYR 6
Final
LAMON 18
TXST 22
Final
TXSANANTO 0
UTEP 34
Final
COLST 45
WYO 31
Final
LSU 10
MISS 7
Final
TENN 20
ALA 34
Final
AUB 42
SCAR 35
Final
PSU 24
OSU 31
 
4th
UTAH 17
USC 21
 
4th
WASH 7
ARST 10
 
2nd
HAW 10
NEV 6
 
Final
SJS 1
BUF 2
Final
TOR 1
BOS 4
Final
NYI 7
DAL 5
Final
PHI 4
DET 2
Final
OTT 2
NJD 3
Final
MON 3
NYR 1
Final
STL 3
CHI 2
Final
NAS 0
PIT 3
Final
MIN 7
TAM 2
Final
ARI 2
FLA 1
Final
CAL 1
WAS 3
3:00pm Today
WIN
COL
 
4:00pm Today
LOS
CLB
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
OTT
 
8:00pm Tonight
ANA
SJS
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
WAS
 
9:30am Today
ATL
DET
1:00pm Today
CIN
BAL
1:00pm Today
NYJ
BUF
1:00pm Today
NEP
CHI
1:00pm Today
TEN
HOU
1:00pm Today
JAC
MIA
1:00pm Today
TAM
MIN
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
1:00pm Today
KAN
STL
4:05pm Today
ARI
PHI
4:25pm Today
PIT
IND
4:25pm Today
CLE
OAK
8:30pm Tonight
NOS
GBP
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14