Having clashed with Clemson in 2008, Virginia Tech in 2009, and Virginia Tech once again in 2013, the Crimson Tide will now tangle with Dana Holgorsen's West Virginia Mountaineers.
Betting Line: Alabama -26 (as of 8/27)
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.@conwell_tom Chances West Virginia beats Alabama this week, 1%.
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) August 26, 2014
West Virginia Mountaineers
While the No. 2 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide will enter the Georgia Dome this Saturday with confidence and the expectations of yet another special season, the West Virginia Mountaineers are likely just searching for the right ingredients to guarantee a winning season.
After going 4-8 in 2013, 2-7 in the Big 12, and losing six of their final seven contests, the Mountaineers can only get better in 2014. While West Virginia does return starting quarterback Clint Trickett, the Mountaineers are still searching for a significant remedy on the defensive side of the ball. Giving up an average of 33.3 points per contest, West Virginia ranked 100th in the nation in respect to scoring defense in 2013.
On the positive side of life in respect to Saturday, West Virginia runs a high octane/air raid offense, the type of offense that has been known to give Alabama fits in recent years. Catching the Crimson Tide off guard will likely be a way for the Mountaineers to combat the fact they're simply not as talented, one-on-one, as Alabama.
#WVU QB Clint Trickett talks surgery, summer, and learning from 2013: http://t.co/dqKfoNoX8p @stephenjnesbitt pic.twitter.com/OzwPymxNdW
— Stephen J. Nesbitt (@stephenjnesbitt) August 5, 2014
Alabama Crimson Tide
The biggest talk around the Alabama program is the quarterback situation and rightfully so. Nick Saban, at least at the time of publication, has yet to confirm that Blake Sims will get the starting nod against West Virginia, but several reputable media outlets seem to think Sims is the man.
As was the case in the 2011 season opener when AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims juggled time, expect both Blake Sims and Jacob Coker to be utilized in a similar fashion against the Mountaineers.
In respect to the other aspects of the Crimson Tide when it comes to week one, Alabama's offensive line, though shaken up a tad due to injuries in preseason camp, should be quite formidable against WVU. However, chances do exist that UA's line could be in for a minor makeover during the first month of the season.
As was the case in 2013, the Tide secondary is once again a question mark, most notably the cornerbacks. Cyrus Jones and Bradley Sylve will get the start against West Virginia, and like most things, the proof will be in the pudding as to how long they're able to maintain those starting roles in the weeks to come. Alabama hasn't had a true lockdown corner since Dee Milliner in 2012.
Alabama lists Jacob Coker, Blake Sims as QB co-starters on depth chart http://t.co/EC33ND5Cmc No surprise. (USATSI) pic.twitter.com/5LiCg4nDP1
— Eye on College FBall (@EyeOnCFB) August 25, 2014
-West Virginia starting cornerback Ishmael "Ickey" Banks will miss the contest against Alabama due to suspension. Banks had 32 tackles and two interceptions last season.
-Per Nick Saban, linebacker Trey DePriest has been suspended for the contest against West Virginia due to a minor NCAA infraction. DePriest's suspension is only for one game.
Alabama starting linebacker suspended for opener after 'minor NCAA infraction'. http://t.co/CPCbvBUdG9
— Michael Casagrande (@ByCasagrande) August 27, 2014
-Per Nick Saban, offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will coach from the field.
Saban on Kiffin calling the game from the field: "I've never made the offensive coordinator come down, but we're going to do it this year."
— Marquavius Burnett (@Marq_Burnett) August 27, 2014
-Jacob Coker stands between 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6, while Blake Sims is only 6-feet tall. While many differences between Coker and Sims have been discussed, the issue of height, especially while standing in the pocket looking over the offensive line, is something that hasn't been discussed very much in the media, if at all. Will Sims have issues seeing downfield while standing in the pocket? It is certainly worthy of conversation and observation. As a point of reference, Johnny Manziel is also listed at 6-feet tall.
Report: Alabama QB Blake Sims the favorite to start vs. WVU, Jacob Coker to play http://t.co/prRtb1AECV
— SEConCBS (@SEConCBS) August 26, 2014
While Alabama does have some questions, they're the type of questions that 99% of all teams in major college football would love to have.
Although West Virginia is a respectable opponent, and they should have a better season than the 4-8 campaign of 2013, the Mountaineers are simply light years away from Alabama when it comes to individual talent.
The Tide is almost a four touchdown favorite and that seems about right.
--- Alabama 38 West Virginia 10 ---