season as the two powerhouses square off Saturday in a showdown in
Arlington, Texas. The Crimson Tide are seeking to win 10 or more games
for the eighth straight season while the Badgers are breaking in a new
coach in Paul Chryst.
Chryst replaced Gary Andersen, who departed for Oregon State, after
three seasons as coach of Pittsburgh and now finds himself facing Nick
Saban and Alabama in his Wisconsin debut. “It’s not about me and I’ve
never gone into a game where I felt that it was about me,” Chryst told
reporters. “I think that this game is a big game and it’s probably
happening because of what both programs have done previous years.” Saban
had yet to announce a starting quarterback at mid-week and said senior
Jake Coker, sophomore Cooper Bateman and junior Alec Morris are all
still in the running. “We’re going to make the decision when we think
it’s the right time to make the decision for this group of guys,” Saban
told reporters. “I would have liked to have made it three months ago.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ABC.
LINE HISTORY: After opening the Tide as 10.5-point home favorites, sportsbooks have since adjusted that number to -12.
INJURY REPORT: Wisconsin – T. McEvoy (probable), H. Biegel (out indefinitely). Alabama – K. Kirven (questionable), P. Barrineau (questionable).
WEATHER: At game time, the forecast is calling for temperatures of 91 degrees Fahrenheit with precipitation not expected to play a factor.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “It’s the first time in a long time that Alabama isn’t considered a favorite to win the title, but the Crimson Tide have to replace a long list of key contributors. They lose their starting quarterback, their top running back, and No. 1-wideout Amari Cooper. They still have a proven star in the backfield in Derrick Henry, and their defensive line ranks among the best in the nation.” Covers Expert Jesse Schule
WHAT BOOKS SAY:
ABOUT WISCONSIN (2014: 11-3): All-everything running back Melvin
Gordon is on to the NFL but there’s not an abundance of fear over that
loss with junior Corey Clement (949 yards, nine touchdowns) coming off a
highly productive backup season. Senior quarterback Joel Stave looks to
rebound after throwing more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (nine)
last season and Chryst visions him returning to his 2013 form when he
tossed 24 scoring passes. The Badgers ranked fourth nationally in total
defense last season (294.1) and return two standout outside linebackers
in junior Vince Biegel (team-best 16.5 tackles for losses) and senior
Joe Schobert (13.5) as well senior safety Michael Caputo (team-high 106
ABOUT ALABAMA (2014: 12-2): Coker passed for 403
yards and four touchdowns as a backup last season while neither Bateman
nor Morris have thrown a pass in a college contest. As usual, The
Crimson Tide will have a strong running game with junior Derrick Henry
(990 yards, 11 touchdowns in 2014) and senior Kenyan Drake, who missed
most of last season due to a broken leg. The Crimson Tide ranked sixth
in scoring defense (18.4) defense last season and will be strong again
with junior defensive end Jonathan Allen (11.5 tackles for loss) and
senior inside linebacker Reggie Ragland (10.5 TFL) leading the way.
*Over is 13-3-1 in Crimson Tide last 17 neutral site games.
*Crimson Tide are 3-12-1 ATS in their last 16 non-conference games.
*Badgers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games.
*Over is 3-0-2 in Badgers last 5 games overall.
COVERS CONSENSUS: According to Covers Consensus, 51 percent of spread wagers are currently on the visiting Badgers.