Alabama Football: Saturday will be no normal FCS game for the Tide

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Nick Saban would prefer Alabama football not play FCS opponents. The way he approaches Saturday’s game with Western Carolina may be different from the norm.

Most of the college football world conveniently forgets Alabama football coach Nick Saban stands alone in being against Power Five versus FCS games. Nick has repeatedly said Power Five teams should only play other Power Five teams. The idea gets no support from other coaches.

This Saturday another outmatched FCS team will make the trek to Tuscaloosa. The result is not in doubt. For 3-8 Western Carolina, it will be a big payday. Catamount players will relish telling their future children and grandchildren of how they battled the Crimson Tide in front of 100,000 (give or take a few thousand) fans.

The Catamounts have made four such trips to Tuscaloosa. Over the course of the first three games, they managed to score a total of six points. The most recent trip, in 2014, had a Western Carolina offensive explosion. The Crimson Tide won 48-14. The combined score for the four games is Alabama Crimson Tide 201 – Western Carolina 20.

The value gained by the Alabama Crimson Tide in such games is getting lots of players game experience and limiting the workload of starters a week before the Iron Bowl. This Saturday will be different for several reasons.

Two Alabama football quarterbacks need game reps. Though the situation is not equal to the QBs, at least a couple of Crimson Tide defensive linemen also need game reps. And there is the CFB Playoff situation for the currently ranked No. 5 Crimson Tide. Normally, no shellacking of an FCS school would enhance a Playoff contender’s resume. Not even an 84-0 result would boost the Tide to a higher Playoff ranking.

If, however, say inside a 56-6 score, Mac Jones throws five touchdown passes, the Selection Committee might notice. Coupled with a double-digit win over Auburn, Mac might silence the claims a ‘Tua-less’ Tide is a wounded offense. It just might make the difference in the Crimson Tide holding off a one-loss Pac 12 Champion for the last Playoff slot.

There are two certain problems with the above scenario. First, Nick Saban does not let his teams run up scores. Also, Lia Tagovailoa needs at least 20 meaningful snaps on Saturday. He needs one or two series with the first unit to help prepare him should Mac be lost to injury. Both limitations could curtail Mac’s production.

Next. Is the Tide getting better on defense?. dark

Nick Saban has told Mac he must be the ‘lead dog.’ A jump-start to that status could be provided by a slew of touchdown tosses on Saturday.