The Kentucky Wildcats (2-4) look to pull off one of the upsets of the season as they face the Alabama Crimson Tide (6-0) in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. Here are the three keys to a Wildcat victory.
By Steve Wright
Use Chris Rodriguez Jr.
A rotational player to start the season, Rodriguez has become the focal point of this Kentucky offense thanks to his 562 yards on 88 carries to date. That is a rushing rate of 6.4 yards per carry, an exceptional number of any back, let alone one working without an effective passing game to keep eight defenders out of the box.
Rodriguez is a big back – he is listed at 225 pounds – and he is one of those players that always seems to fall forwards for extra yards The passing game isn’t working and the rest of the running backs are not able to provide the punch that Rodriguez provides, so running the big back at the ‘Bama defence is going to be huge this weekend.
Don’t Let ‘Bama Run Away
This Alabama squad under Nick Saban has become one of the best teams in the country at piling on points early and letting the game play out as a formality in the second half. This is a problem for any school that is trying to match point for point with Mac Jones and the Alabama offense, but it is even more dangerous for a Kentucky offensive unit that lacks the explosive plays needed to keep a shootout close. If ‘Bama gets up by 10 or 14 points it is hard to see Kentucky pulling things back, so the Wildcats have to be on it from the first snap, slowing the game down and building sustained drives to make this a game of possessions. Limiting the ‘Bama offense will be huge in the first two quarters.
Win the Turnover Battle
Kentucky is not going to beat Alabama straight up in 2020. The Wildcats’ best hope to pick up a win is to dominate time of possession, win the field position battle – though without Max Duffy punting this becomes more difficult – and to win the turnover battle. The Wildcats defense already has a six interception game this fall and Kentucky has a +4 margin on the season with 12 takeaways and eight giveaways. Alabama – unfortunately – is doing even better, with the Crimson Tide having a turnover margin of +5 with 11 takes and six gives. Kentucky needs to be at least +2 – and more likely +3 or even +4 to win on Saturday.
Saturday‘s game kicks off at 3:00 PM CT (4:00 PM ET). You can watch this Kentucky football game on the SEC Network.