No. 3 Alabama hosts No. 11 Texas in Saturday night showcase

no-3-alabama-hosts-no.-11-texas-in-saturday-night-showcase

Alabama coach Nick Saban sports a 28-2 all-time record when coaching against one of his former assistants. Steve Sarkisian nearly made a dent in that record when his Texas Longhorns faced off against Saban in 2022.

If the hype for Alabama-Texas Part I was sky-high last season, expect the sequel to surpass it when the two brand-name programs clash Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Alabama (1-0) moved up one spot to No. 3 in the new Associated Press Top 25 poll Tuesday, while Texas (1-0) remained at No. 11. Though it just missed out on being a top-10 matchup, it’s expected to be the game of the week; ESPN is sending “College GameDay” to Alabama for the programs’ final meeting before Texas joins the SEC.

“Naturally, Bryant-Denny Stadium is a heck of an environment,” Sarkisian said this week. “They do a tremendous job at Alabama with their game day, the electricity in the stadium, but the key to the drill is focus on what we need to do.”

Sarkisian was an offensive analyst for Saban in 2016 and returned to Tuscaloosa in the offensive coordinator role for 2019 and 2020. That served as a launching pad for the former Washington and Southern California head coach to get the Texas job.

When the Longhorns hosted the Crimson Tide in Austin last year, starting quarterback Quinn Ewers suffered a sprained clavicle during the first quarter and Hudson Card took the reins. Alabama, despite committing 15 penalties for 100 yards, escaped with a 20-19 win on Will Reichard’s field goal in the final seconds.

Ewers is back in 2023 after a reasonably successful freshman campaign. He went 19-for-30 for 260 yards and three touchdowns in the Longhorns’ 37-10 win over Rice in the season opener.

“I’m going into this game like any other game,” Ewers said. “I don’t really play the ‘what ifs’ (game). I’m just focused on what the offense is preparing to do and what the team is preparing to do. … This team does a good job of going into each game with the same mindset and every game is a big game for us. We just want to be enamored with us, at the end of the day.”

Saban had nothing but compliments for Sarkisian and the Longhorns.

“This is a really good team all the way around, and it’s going to be an opportunity for our team to sort of, you know, ‘Where are we as a team? Where are you as a player?'” Saban said.

Alabama dismantled Middle Tennessee 56-7 in its season opener. Jalen Milroe struck early and often, running for touchdowns from 21 and 13 yards and adding touchdown passes to three different receivers. Tyler Buchner and Ty Simpson got snaps in garbage time, but Milroe is viewed as the No. 1 quarterback going forward.

Two starting defensive backs, Malachi Moore and Jaylen Key, were hurt during the opener and deemed day-to-day by Saban. If Alabama’s secondary isn’t at full strength, it might make the task of containing Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy harder. Worthy began his season with a seven-catch, 90-yard performance.

Saban, a seven-time national champion (six at Alabama), is rewatching the tape from last year’s game, though not as a motivation tool for his players.

“I don’t think you’d look back on the game from a psychological standpoint as much as you do a technical standpoint,” he said.

Texas leads the all-time series 7-2-1, but the Crimson Tide have won both meetings this millennium.

–Field Level Media

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