ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (5-0)
at MISSOURI TIGERS (3-3)
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Alabama -21, Total: 43Ĺ
The top team in the nation tries to win its 10th straight game overall when No. 1 Alabama visits struggling Missouri in search of its first-ever SEC win on Saturday.
The last meeting between these two teams was in 1978 when the Crimson Tide won 38-20. In 2012, Alabama has 33+ points in each game and hasnít allowed more than 14 points, but is just 2-3 ATS due to some lofty spreads. The Tideís past three opponents have averaged a paltry 155 total YPG. Missouri has alternated wins and losses all season, going 0-3 in SEC play and 3-0 in non-conference games, but has just one ATS win in its past five contests (1-3-1 ATS). Much of that has to do with a sputtering Tigers offense scoring just 18.0 PPG during this span. They gained 395 total yards last week, but scored only one touchdown in a 19-15 home loss to Vanderbilt.
Can Alabama cover this hefty number on the road? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every key college football game throughout the 2012 season.
AJ McCarron is having an outstanding junior season, ranking fifth in the nation in passing efficiency (191.60). He has completed 66% of his passes for 999 yards, 12 TD and zero interceptions this year. Freshman Amari Cooper has been his favorite target, hauling in 17 catches for 222 yards and 3 TD on the year, after his season-high 84 yards and 2 TD in a 33-14 win over Ole Miss before last week's bye. Alabama's ground game hasn't been spectacular in 2012 (188 YPG, sixth in SEC), failing to reach 250 yards in any of its five contests. Last year, the Tide averaged 215 rushing YPG, which led the conference. Eddie Lacy has not been able to fill Trent Richardson's cleats, gaining a pedestrian 314 yards on 4.9 YPC for the season with zero touchdowns in his past two games. Freshman T.J. Yeldon has also been lackluster since the season opener, gaining just 181 yards on 39 carries (4.6 YPC) over four games. There is nothing wrong with the defense though, as the Tide lead the country in points allowed (7.0 PPG), yards allowed (192 YPG) and turnover margin (+2.4 TO per game). Thirteen different Alabama players have recorded at least 0.5 sacks this season, and the Tide have already picked off an SEC-most nine passes.
Missouri QB James Franklin will not play because of a sprained left knee, leaving redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser as the starter versus the best defense in the nation. Berkstresser has actually seen playing time in five of six games this year and his overall numbers are decent: 42-of-84, 501 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT. He has also rushed for a pair of scores. However, Berkstresser completed just 9-of-30 passes in the loss to Vandy. The good thing about Missouri's passing offense is that several receivers are capable of helping him out. Seven different players have already exceeded 100 receiving yards for the season. If the Tigers are to hang in with the mighty Tide, it will have to be senior RB Kendial Lawrence that carries them. He rushed for 92 yards last week, giving him 487 rushing yards (5.7 YPC) and five touchdowns for the season. Missouri's defense is led by a fierce front seven that has not allowed 150 rushing yards in any game this season. The Tigers have also forced 14 turnovers, which has helped offset the 219 passing YPG they've allowed (10th in SEC). Missouri averages 8.8 Tackles For Loss per game, which ranks third in the nation.