UK Football

The Blue Preview: Can UK leave Alabama with its pride intact?

Kentucky at No. 1 Alabama

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Tuscaloosa, Ala.

TV: ESPN (play-by-play Dave Pasch; analysis Greg McElroy; sideline Tom Luginbill)

Radio: WLAP AM-630, WBUL FM-98.1, XM Channel 190, Sirius Channel 83

Records: Kentucky 2-2 (1-1 SEC); Alabama 4-0 (1-0 SEC)

Series: Alabama leads 36-2-1, and UK (0-20-1) has never beaten the Crimson Tide in the state of Alabama

Last meeting: Alabama won 48-7 in Commonwealth Stadium on Oct. 12, 2013

Favorite: Alabama is favored by 34 1/2 points

The storyline

Assuming his sprained ankle allows Alabama running back Damien Harris to play, what looks on paper to be a mismatch will at least have the spice of the former Kentucky high school star going against the home-state university he spurned in recruiting.

On the spot

The Kentucky run defense. A punishing Alabama rushing attack (246.2 yards a game) would seem the worst-possible matchup for a UK “D” that is 13th in the SEC (205 yards a game allowed) against the run. Will a desire not to be embarrassed by Harris motivate Kentucky to play above its season track record?

The big threat

As a dual-threat quarterback, true freshman Jalen Hurts (251 yards, three TDs rushing; 62.7 percent passing for 727 yards and five TDs) has introduced a new dimension to Nick Saban’s offense. Star wide receiver Calvin Ridley (20 catches, 224 yards) and, if healthy, Harris (348 yards, 8.6 yards a carry) aren’t bad, either.

The mood

Perked up a bit after Kentucky’s hard-fought victory over South Carolina. No one expects Mark Stoops and the Cats to beat Alabama in Bryant-Denny Stadium. UK needs to show up and play with fight (unlike what it did at Florida and hope — pray — to avoid costly injuries. If it does both, the Cats might draw confidence for the coming stretch of games — Vanderbilt (Oct. 8), Mississippi State (Oct. 22), at Missouri (Oct. 29) and Georgia (Nov. 5) — whose outcomes will determine the Wildcats’ season.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader

  Comments