No. 1 Alabama welcomes Fresno State in home opener
Fresno State (1-0) at No. 1 Alabama (1-0), Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Line: Alabama by 44.
Series record: First meeting.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
This will be a chance for Alabama to get its linebacker situation sorted out after two (Christian Miller and Terrell Lewis) were lost to season-ending injuries against Florida State, with two others expected to miss the game also. If the game goes as most would expect, highly regarded freshmen such as running back Najee Harris and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa could see significant playing time. Fresno State’s trying to show progress under new coach Jeff Tedford.
Fresno State’s defense against Alabama’s running game. It’s hard to read too much into the minus-30 rushing yards Fresno State allowed against FCS Incarnate Word, but Alabama didn’t put up big numbers against a tough Florida State defense. TBs Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough and Najee Harris are all formidable, while Josh Jacobs’ status remains uncertain with a hamstring injury.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Fresno State: WR KeeSean Johnson led the team in receiving last season and had seven catches for 120 yards in the opener.
Alabama: Tagovailoa is a five-star recruit from Hawaii. He needs playing time sooner or later just in case, and this could provide an opportunity.
FACTS & FIGURES
Fresno State is facing a No. 1 team for the third time and didn’t fare too badly the first two, at least offensively. The Bulldogs fell to USC 50-42 in 2005 and to Oklahoma 52-28 in 2003. ... Tide coach Nick Saban has won 16 consecutive home openers dating back his tenure at Michigan State. He has also won 65 straight games against unranked teams. ... Alabama is facing back-to-back Mountain West Conference teams, with Colorado State visiting next week. Fresno State is facing two straight 2016 playoff teams, Alabama and Washington. ... The Bulldogs are coming off their first shutout since 2009, a 66-0 win over Incarnate Word.