Narrowly escaping a tragic week one loss, the Alabama Crimson Tide hope to build on a 1-0 record after defeating the West Virginia Mountaineers in less than impressive fashion. Nick Saban hopes to see his new quarterback develop into the type of leader that AJ McCarron was, but Blake Sims has a ways to go.
Not much is expected of the Florida Atlantic Owls this season, especially after a week one stomping by the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 55-7. With a new head coach in place and coming off a 6-6 season, the Owls look to be in for a treat when they travel to Alabama on Saturday.
As stated earlier, the Crimson Tide started a quarterback by a name other than AJ McCarron for the first time in four years and Sims didn’t do all too bad. The senior signal caller got his first start after sitting behind McCarron for years and he passed for 250 yards while completing 24 of 33 passes, but also had one interception to his zero touchdown passes. Sims also showed versatility by rushing for 42 yards on six carries. Sims’ favorite target, to no one’s surprise, was junior Amari Cooper who caught 12 passes for 130 yards while DeAndrew White caught six passes for 73 yards. T.J. Yeldon led the strong run game with 23 carries for 126 yards and two scores while Derrick Henry added 113 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
Florida Atlantic had a tough time, and I mean very tough time, against the Cornhuskers in the opening game of the season, finishing with a measly 200 total yards. It seemed like nothing could go right for the Owls as the Huskers held them to just 95 yards through the air, frustrating starting quarterback Jaquez Johnson, leaving him with just 61 passing yards and a score before departing. Lucky Whitehead was the target of choice for both quarterbacks, accounting for 40 of the team’s 95 yards through the air along with the Owls’ lone touchdown catch. The run game wasn’t much better, but Jay Warren wasn’t completely unsuccessful as he finished with 77 yards on 14 carries — a solid 5.5 average per rush.
Defensively, the Owls had the second worst week one performance in all of college football, allowing a smoldering 784 yards to the Cornhuskers, 498 of which came on the ground. With such a poor run defense, expect Yeldon to have a field day. Alabama, on the other hand, wasn’t awful in week one, holding the Mountaineers to under 400 total yards. However, the Crimson Tide struggled against the pass, allowing 365 yards through the air, but just 28 on the ground.
Florida Atlantic will travel to Alabama to take on the Crimson Tide at 12 p.m. EST on Saturday, Sept. 6. The game will be broadcasted on the SEC Network.
PREDICTION: Alabama 55, Florida Atlantic 10
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.