23rd-ranked Alabama's non-conference schedule is not getting any easier as it prepares to host #21 Houston in a weekend series. The Cougar's 6-5 record may give you the idea that they are a bit overrated, but that could not be more wrong.

Three of Houston's five losses came to ranked foes, and its other two losses were decided by three runs. The weekend rotation can shoulder a lot of the blame for the team's early struggles.

The probable weekend rotation is RHP Andrew Lantrip, LHP John King, and LHP Seth Romero. Lantrip has an impressive 2.45 ERA with 19 strikeouts but has a 1-2 record in three starts. King has posted a 2-1 record, but he has given up a team high seven earned runs. Romero got his first start of the year last weekend and only allowed one hit across 5.0 innings pitched.

Alabama's probable starters for the weekend are RHP Geoffrey Bramblett, RHP Jake Walters, and RHP Ray Castillo. Bramblett has been a true force on Friday as he has only allowed two earned runs across 21.1 innings. Walters does have one loss on the season, but his 25 strikeouts are the second-most among SEC pitchers. Castillo will be getting his second weekend start of the year. He has not allowed an earned run this season.

The Tide has a clear advantage on the mound, but the Cougars make up ground by having a more dangerous lineup. Houston currently has four players batting over .300. The two most dangerous hitters are Joe Davis and Connor Wong. Davis may be the nation's most impressive freshman as he leads the AAC in batting average (.467), hits (21), and RBIs (18). Wong, who is only a sophomore, is batting a very respectable .364.

Alabama has some young talent of their own. Freshmen Chandler Taylor and Cobie Vance have combined 25 hits. Meanwhile, two sport athlete Keith Holcombe has also proven to be a big time add. He is currently carrying a .400 batting average. Still, the Tide has struggled at the plate this season. They will need to provide significant run support if they plan on hanging with Houston.

Alabama and Houston have met 15 times with the Cougars leading the all-time series, 8-7. The two teams met last season with Houston taking the series. Friday night's matchup is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. CT, and Nick Saban will throwing out the first pitch. Saturday's game will start at 2:00 p.m. CT, and the series finale will begin at 1:00 p.m. CT.

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