Mark Story

Keys to the game

UK quarterback Jalen Whitlow faces his toughest test yet against the No. 1 team in the nation on Saturday.
UK quarterback Jalen Whitlow faces his toughest test yet against the No. 1 team in the nation on Saturday. Herald-Leader

No. 1 Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC) at Kentucky (1-4, 0-2 SEC) | When: 7 p.m. | Where: Commonwealth Stadium | TV: ESPN2 |

Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, Sirius Channel 94, XM Channel 200 | Series: Alabama leads 35-2-1 | Last meeting: Alabama won 38-20 at Commonwealth Stadium on Oct. 3, 2009. | Line: Alabama is favored by 27.

The mood

Is remarkably upbeat considering UK is 1-4. Kentucky has gotten through the first three games of a murderer's row stretch against teams ranked No. 7, No. 19 and No. 13 without being embarrassed. If the Cats can still say that after facing Nick Saban's top-ranked Tide, it could bode well for the "more manageable" second half of the Wildcats schedule.

MARK STORY

More coverage

Stoops won't sugarcoat the challenge UK faces against the Tide. Page D4

In a head-to-head matchup of positions, Alabama sweeps. Kentucky.com

Hang around

In losses to ranked foes Louisville, Florida and South Carolina, Kentucky has managed to "stay in games." Outgained 492-376 by U of L, UK lost "only" 27-13. Massively outgained by Florida (402-173), it was 24-7 on the scoreboard. At South Carolina, the Gamecocks won the yardage decisively (453-301) and the game narrowly (35-28). Top-ranked Alabama will put UK's ability to stay in games with more talented foes to the ultimate test.

Keep the rhythm going

For the first time this season against any foe not named Miami (Ohio), Kentucky sustained a positive offensive flow during the second half at South Carolina, scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter. Jalen Whitlow responded well to his first full game of action at quarterback in 2013. Against an Alabama defense that rivals Florida's for best in the SEC, can Whitlow and UK's youthful offensive playmakers sustain that momentum?

No turnovers

Since 2008, Alabama is 44-0 when it wins the turnover battle, 23-7 when it either ties or loses in TO margin. That makes it pretty clear what UK has to do. Kentucky is nowhere close to good enough to stay in the game with the Crimson Tide if the Wildcats fail to take care of the ball.

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