Alabama vs. Wisconsin Game Preview: Everything You Need To Know Before Kickoff
No. 3 Alabama (0-0) vs. No. 20 Wisconsin (0-0)
When: Saturday, Sept. 5 at 7 p.m. CT
Where: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
Local weather on gameday: 98 degrees with 56 percent humidity and a 0 percent of precipitation. Winds moving SSE at 8 mph.
TV: ABC (Play-by-play: Chris Fowler, color analyst: Kirk Herbstreit, sideline reporter: Heather Cox)
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (Play-by-play: Eli Gold, color analyst: Phil Savage, sideline reporter: Chris Stewart).
Spread: Alabama (-9½-12), according to Danny Sheridan.
Last Meeting: The Badgers pitched a 15-0 shutout at home against the Crimson Tide in 1928.
Series History: Wisconsin leads the series, 1-0, with the teams’ lone meeting coming in the 1928 matchup in Madison.
The Crimson Tide finished 12-2, defeating Missouri, 42-13, in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. In the inaugural College Football Playoff, the Tide was the No. 1 overall seed but fell 42-35 in the semifinal game in New Orleans against eventual champion Ohio State.
The Badgers under then-second-year head coach Gary Andersen (and interim coach Barry Alvarez during the bowl game) went 11-3 (7-1 Big Ten), reaching the Big Ten Championship Game. Wisconsin lost 28-24 in its season opener against LSU in Houston, 20-14 at Northwestern in October and 59-0 versus Ohio State in the Big Ten title game.
Wisconsin, under Alvarez after Andersen left to take the Oregon State job, beat Auburn 34-31 in overtime in the Outback Bowl in Tampa.
Keep an eye on:
Jake Coker/Alec Morris/Cooper Bateman, quarterback: Of the three quarterbacks named finalists for the starting job by Saban – and the team’s depth chart this past Monday – it appears only two will actually see the field Saturday. During his weekly radio show Thursday night, Saban said the job has now been narrowed down to just quarterbacks but didn’t name which players. Regardless, the quarterback position will be watched with a particularly close eye against the Badgers after an offseason of speculation and questions.
Kenyan Drake, running back: Perhaps last season’s biggest loss could be this season’s biggest gain. Drake, one of the team’s top offensive weapons, will return to game action for the first time since going down with a season-ending injury at Ole Miss last October. While Drake has practiced without any severe limitations throughout fall practice, game action is a different story. If Drake performs just as he did pre-injury last season, it could be the difference maker against a stout Wisconsin defense.
Corey Clement, running back: The junior running back will finally get his chance to start for Wisconsin, but that doesn’t mean he lacks in experience. After two years of working as a backup behind Melvin Gordon, last season’s Heisman Trophy runner-up, moves into the lead role for the Badgers. In his first two seasons, he rushed for 1,496 yards and 16 touchdowns, including 949 yards and nine scores a year ago. If Clement is anything like the traditional workhorse Wisconsin running back, there’s a chance he will cause some issues for Alabama’s defense.
Vince Biegel and Joe Schobert, outside linebackers: In 2015, you will be hard pressed to find a better linebacker duo in college football, or at least perhaps on Alabama’s schedule this season. A season ago, the junior and senior starters combined for 30 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. Alabama didn’t give up many sacks (14) last season, but the Crimson Tide can ill afford to have their new starting quarterback(s) rattled, especially early. Right tackle Dominick Jackson is a new starter at right tackle for Alabama.
- Sophomore wide receiver Cam Sims (knee) tore his ACL in late March, but coach Nick Saban said there’s a chance he plays after he was cleared by the team’s medical staff this week.
- Offensive lineman Korren Kirven (knee) is questionable after sustaining an MCL sprain in the team’s final scrimmage Aug. 22. He returned to practice this past Monday but was limited.
- Wide receiver Parker Barrineau (toe) is also questionable after “an incident in the shower” during fall practice. Saban said Barrineau cut his toe on a door that required surgery to sew back up. Barrineau has since returned to practice.
- Senior wide receiver Tanner McEvoy (knee), a first-year starter at the position, is expected to play.
- Starting right tackle Hayden Biegel returned to practice Tuesday, over two weeks after he sustained a concussion during the Badgers’ fall practice. He is expected to play.