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College Football
Preview
West Virginia vs Alabama
When: 3:30 PM ET, Saturday, August 30, 2014
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia

It’s a mark of just how successful Nick Saban’s tenure at Alabama has been that a two-game losing streak represents the lowest point in years. The second-ranked Crimson Tide will try to put a disappointing end to last season behind them when they open up 2014 by playing West Virginia in Atlanta. The expectations for the Mountaineers are decidedly lower following a disappointing 2013, and they will face a pair of top-five teams within the first four games.

Alabama was in line for another trip to the National Championship game before a stunning loss to Auburn in the regular-season finale in 2013 and went on to lose the Sugar Bowl to Oklahoma. Saban lost starting quarterback A.J. McCarron to the NFL in the offseason and is still trying to decide if it’s going to be senior Blake Sims or junior Jake Coker under center for the opener. West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen has the luxury of a returning starter at quarterback in Clint Trickett, but the test will come on the defensive side - where the Mountaineers surrendered an average of 33.3 points in 2013.

TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2. LINE: Alabama -26.5

ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA (2013: 4-8): The rigors of a second full season in the Big 12 wore down the Mountaineers in 2013 as they dropped six of their final seven games and fell out of bowl contention. West Virginia made a move to strengthen the defense by bringing in veteran coach Tom Bradley, formerly of Penn State, to serve as a senior associate head coach. Offensively, 1,000-yard rusher Charles Sims graduated, leaving Trickett with senior Dreamius Smith and an untested group of backs to take the pressure off the passing game.

ABOUT ALABAMA (2013: 11-2): No matter who starts under center for the Crimson Tide, the offense appears to be in good shape with returning wide receiver Amari Cooper and a trio of running backs. Leading rusher T.J. Yeldon is back and will share carries in Saban’s pounding attack with 6-3, 240-pound sophomore Derrick Henry, with speedster Kenyan Drake available as a speedster with some pass-catching ability out of the backfield. Alabama has been among the top defensive teams in the country over the last several seasons and should be strong again despite the departures of players like C.J. Mosely and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Trickett had as many interceptions (seven) as touchdown passes last season but got better as the season wore on and passed for 356 yards in the finale loss to Iowa State.

2. Crimson Tide KR Christion Jones is the top returner in the SEC with an average of 28.7 yards on kicks and 14 yards on punts in 2013.

3. Alabama sophomore TE O.J. Howard is expected to take on a larger role in the passing game.

PREDICTION: Alabama 35, West Virginia 17
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
West Virginia 0-0 - 0.0 0.0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0
Alabama 0-0 - 0.0 0.0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0
Last Meeting
West Virginia Alabama
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
No previous meeting.
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
West Virginia N/A
Alabama N/A
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
West Virginia N/A
Alabama N/A
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
West Virginia N/A
Alabama N/A
Touchdowns Player TD
West Virginia N/A
Alabama N/A
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
West Virginia N/A
Alabama N/A
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
West Virginia N/A
Alabama N/A
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
West Virginia N/A
Alabama N/A
Touchdowns Player TD
West Virginia N/A
Alabama N/A
Quickchart Matchup
West Virginia Off vs  Alabama Def
0 yards
0 yards
0 yards/rush
0 yards/rush
Alabama Off vs  West Virginia Def
0 yards
0 yards