Tide Gears up for 2012 Home Opener

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Alabama opens its home slate this week against Western Kentucky
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
Alabama opens its home slate this week against Western Kentucky
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

Sept. 3, 2012

Game #2 |  No. 2/2 Alabama (1-0, 0-0 SEC) vs. Western Kentucky (1-0, 0-0 Sun Belt)
 Date Saturday, Sept. 8 | 2:30 p.m. CT
 Location Tuscaloosa, Ala. | Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821)
 Tickets Ticket Information
 Television SEC Network | Mike Morgan, Chris Doering, Jill Montgomery
 Radio Crimson Tide Sports Network | Listen Live
 Live Stats GameTracker
 Game Notes Alabama NotesWestern Kentucky Notes
 All-Time Series Alabama Leads 1-0 | 1-0 in Tuscaloosa | Streak: UA 1

THE GAME:The University of Alabama football team will play its first home game of the 2012 season on Saturday, September 18, when it hosts Western Kentucky at Bryant-Denny Stadium. This will be the second meeting between the two programs, with the Crimson Tide leading the series 1-0. The two teams first met on September 13, 2008, in Tuscaloosa in a game that ended in a 41-7 decision in favor of Alabama. The game will be televised regionally on the SEC Network with kickoff set for 2:30 p.m. CT. Mike Morgan will serve as the play-by-play announcer, with Chris Doering at his side as the color analyst. The two will be joined by sideline reporter Jill Montgomery. Eli Gold and Phil Savage will handle the radio call on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart serving as sideline reporter.

HEAD COACH Nick Saban: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) is in his sixth season with the Crimson Tide. Named the school's 27th head coach on Jan. 3, 2007, Saban has compiled a 51-12 record (56-12 before five vacated wins in 2007) at Alabama while leading the Tide to two SEC Western Division championships, one conference title and two national championships. Saban holds a career record of 142-54-1 (147-54-1) as a collegiate head coach, while also serving at Toledo, Michigan State and LSU. Saban won his first national championship as head coach of the LSU Tigers in 2003, guiding the Tigers to a 13-1 record that season. Overall, Saban has coached four conference championship teams (1990 Mid-American, 2001 SEC, 2003 SEC and 2009 SEC) and 13 of his 16 teams have played in postseason bowl games with the Tide appearing in a bowl game each year under Saban's direction. Saban is also the only active coach to win three BCS National Championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.

RANKINGS: Alabama opened the 2012 season ranked second in the Associated Press and USA TODAY Coaches' preseason polls. Western Kentucky is not ranked in either poll. New rankings will be released on Tuesday, September 4.

WESTERN KENTUCKY: For the first time since 2005, Western Kentucky started the season 1-0, beating Austin Peay, 49-10, last weekend. Senior quarterback Kawaun Jakes set career highs with 296 passing yards and four touchdowns to lead the Hilltoppers to the victory. WKU racked up 596 yards of total offense, the most since finishing with 620 in a 63-3 win over West Virginia Tech on September 1, 2005. The Hilltoppers went 7-5 last season, which included a 7-1 record in the Sun Belt Conference.

NEXT GAME: Alabama hits the road for its first Southeastern Conference matchup of the season next week when it heads to Fayetteville to take on the 10th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks. The game will be televised on CBS with kickoff slated for 2:30 p.m. CT. The Crimson Tide has won the last four meetings and leads the overall series 12-8, however the game will be the 23rd between the two programs as Alabama had to forfeit one game and vacate another two due to NCAA rulings.

MILLINER AND YELDON HONORED BY THE SEC: Junior Dee Milliner and freshman T.J. Yeldon were both recognized by the Southeastern Conference following the first week of play as Milliner was named the Defensive Player of the Week and Yeldon the Co-Freshman of the Week. Milliner collected four pass breakups, an interception and five tackles against Michigan, while Yeldon had 11 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown versus the Wolverines.

YELDON FIRST TRUE FRESHMAN TO GO OVER 100 IN DEBUT: Running back T.J. Yeldon became the first Alabama true freshman to rush for more than 100 yards in his debut in the win over Michigan. He finished the game with 111 yards on 11 carries and one rushing touchdown. Yeldon also added 26 yards receiving for a total of 137 all-purpose yards. Yeldon is the seventh Alabama running back to crack the century mark since Coach Saban arrived in 2007 and his 111-yard outing was the 38th 100-yard rushing performance in Saban's 68 games at the Capstone.

TRUE FRESHMEN IN THE OPENER: Eight true freshmen made their debuts in the season opener against Michigan, including defensive back Landon Collins, wide receiver Amari Cooper, running back Kenyan Drake, linebacker Denzel Devall, linebacker Dillon Lee, linebacker Reggie Ragland, defensive back Geno Smith and running back T.J. Yeldon. Alabama also had six redshirt freshmen - quarterback Phillip Ely, running back Dee Hart, center Ryan Kelly, defensive end D.J. Pettway and wide receivers Marvin Shinn and Danny Woodson Jr. Junior college transfer Deion Belue also started and played his first game with the Crimson Tide.

TIDE SCORES 70 UNANSWERED: Alabama scored 70 unanswered points in its last three games dating back to the 14:49 mark of the third quarter against Auburn on Nov. 26, 2011. The streak also included the Tide's 21-0 defeat of LSU in the BCS National Championship Game. The run was ended by a six-yard touchdown rush by Michigan's Denard Robinson with 2:20 to go in the first half of the 2012 Cowboys Classic.

SCORING STREAK CONTINUES: With its first touchdown of the game against Michigan in the Cowboys Classic on September 1, Alabama raised its current total of games in which it scored to 143. The 143 straight games mark the longest streak in program history.

MILLINER NAMED WALTER CAMP DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Junior cornerback Dee Milliner was selected as the Walter Camp Foundation National Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Crimson Tide's 41-14 victory over No. 8 Michigan in the Cowboys Classic. Milliner recorded five tackles with one interception while breaking up four passes. He returned the interception 35 yards to the Michigan 17-yard line, setting up the Tide's third score of the first quarter and a 21-0 lead. In addition, Milliner helped limit the Wolverines to just 268 yards of total offense.

MOSLEY TIES SCHOOL MARK FOR INTERCEPTIONS FOR A TD: Junior C.J. Mosley intercepted a pass and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown with 4:31 left in the second period against Michigan in the Cowboys Classic. The touchdown was the third interception return for a score for Mosley in his Alabama career, tying Antonio Langham's (1990-93) school record. Mosley had two touchdown returns in 2010 vs. Florida and Georgia State.

FOSTER HITS CAREER-HIGH FIELD GOAL: Junior Cade Foster booted a 51-yard field goal at the 2:34 mark of the third quarter against Michigan on Sept. 1, 2012, setting a new career high for the third-year kicker. In addition, the 51-yarder marked the longest field goal in Cowboys Classic history as well as the longest field goal for an Alabama kicker since Leigh Tiffin connected from 52 yards against Utah in the 2009 Sugar Bowl at the Superdome in New Orleans.

McCARRON MOVES INTO TOP 10 IN CONSECUTIVE PASSES WITHOUT AN INTERCEPTION: AJ McCarron is tied with Greg McElroy for the eighth-most consecutive passes without an interception in UA history. McCarron entered the season with 95 straight passes without a pick and finished the season-opener against Michigan with 21 attempts, bringing his total number of consecutive passes without an interception to 116. This is McCarron's second run in this particular category as he went 152 straight attempts last season before throwing an interception. Brodie Croyle's mark of 190 consecutive attempts without an interception remains an Alabama record.

CHAMPIONSHIP EXPERIENCE: Alabama returned 43 lettermen from the 2011 National Championship team, but the Crimson Tide also boasts 21 players who played on both 2009 and 2011 championship teams. Looking a little deeper you find the Tide had eight players that saw action in both 2009 and 2011. There were also three players that started at least two games in both 2009 and 2011, including Barrett Jones, Michael Williams and Nico Johnson.

ALABAMA UNDER SABAN IN SEPTEMBER: Alabama has been very successful in the opening month of the season under head coach Nick Saban. Now in his sixth season at Alabama, the Crimson Tide sports a 21-2 record in September following the win against Michigan. Since 2008, Alabama is a perfect 18-0 in September games.

SCORING VARIETY: Alabama found the end zone in a variety of ways in its season opener against Michigan. The Crimson Tide threw for two touchdowns, rushed for another pair of touchdowns, returned an interception and hit two field goals. AJ McCarron tossed both touchdown passes, first to Michael Williams and then to DeAndrew White on the Tide's following drive. On Alabama's final drive of the first quarter, Eddie Lacy rushed the ball nine yards to put the Tide in front 21-0. Alabama tacked on 10 more points in the second quarter thanks to a 22-yard field goal from Jeremy Shelley and a 16-yard interception return from C.J. Mosley. In the third quarter, Cade Foster hit a career-best 51-yard field goal and true freshman T.J. Yeldon capped off a banner debut for the Tide as he scored on a one-yard run with 5:32 remaining in the fourth quarter.

NON-OFFENSIVE TDs IN THE SABAN ERA: C.J. Mosley's 16-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter of Alabama's 2012 season opener marked the 26th non-offensive touchdown of the Nick Saban era. Since Saban took over as Alabama's head coach, the Crimson Tide has garnered 12 interception returns, seven punt returns, three kickoff returns, two fumble returns and two blocked punt returns for a touchdown.

SABAN AMONG THE BEST: Head coach Nick Saban's arrival in Tuscaloosa led to the Crimson Tide's rapid rise up the national rankings. That success in such a short period of time impacted the Tide's record book. Saban produced the largest win increase from year one to year two in school history as Alabama went from seven wins in 2007 to 12 wins in 2008. He is one of two coaches (with Oklahoma's Bob Stoops) in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) to have coached 10 years and never suffered through a losing season. Saban achieved more firsts in 2009 with back-to-back 10-win seasons and his first undefeated campaign. He followed that up with another 10-win season in 2011. Saban ranks fifth in winning percentage (72.3 percent) among active coaches who have coached at least 10 years of FBS football. He is the only coach in college football history to win three BCS National Championships and the first to win a BCS National Championship at two different schools.

ALABAMA RANKED 66 STRAIGHT WEEKS BY AP: Alabama has been ranked in the last 66 Associated Press polls, the longest streak in the nation. The streak began with the first poll of the 2008 season. Boise State holds the next longest streak with 61 straight mentions.

BEATING THE BEST: Alabama is 19-6 against the Associated Press Top 25 over the past four seasons and 11-4 against AP top 10 teams. The Crimson Tide won its 2012 season opener against No. 8 Michigan to start the season 1-0 against the AP Top 25. Alabama went 4-1 vs. top 25 teams in 2011 and 5-3 against the AP Top 25 in 2010. Six of the last seven matchups have gone in favor of the Tide, with the only loss coming in the 9-6 overtime game to LSU on November 5, 2011.

PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS: The Crimson Tide has had eight players earn a total of 15 preseason All-America accolades from various publications leading up to the start of the 2012 campaign. The list includes D.J. Fluker, Barrett Jones, Nico Johnson, Robert Lester, Dee Milliner, C.J. Mosley, Chance Warmack and Jesse Williams. Fluker was a first-team selection by Phil Steele and second team honoree from Sports Illustrated, while Jones was a first-team selection by Phil Steele, Athlon Sports, Sporting News and Sports Illustrated. Johnson was named to the third-team by Phil Steele, and Lester was a third-team selection by Phil Steele and a second-team pick Lindy's. Milliner was tabbed as a third-team selection by Phil Steele, while Mosley received second-team honors from Phil Steele. Warmack picked up a first-team pick by Phil Steele and Sports Illustrated and a third-team selection by Athlon Sports. Williams rounded out the Tide's eight selections with a second-team tab by Phil Steele.

CONSENSUS ALL-AMERICANS: Since head coach Nick Saban stepped on campus in 2007, he has had a knack for developing young recruits into All-Americans. In his five years at UA, Saban has produced the most number of consensus All-Americans with 11. Saban's consensus All-Americans include Antoine Caldwell (center, 2008), Andre Smith (offensive line, 2008), Terrence Cody (defensive line, 2008 and 2009), Rolando McClain (linebacker, 2009), Mark Ingram (running back, 2009), Mike Johnson (offensive line, 2009), Javier Arenas (cornerback, 2009), Mark Barron (safety, 2011), Dont'a Hightower (linebacker, 2011), Barrett Jones (offensive line, 2011) and Trent Richardson (running back, 2011). Second in the same time period is Oklahoma with nine, while Florida has registered seven in the five-year period.

TOUGH SLATE: Alabama's 2012 schedule features four teams ranked in the preseason USA TODAY Coaches' Poll Top 25, and four others opponents receiving votes. The Tide opened the 2012 season with then-No. 8 Michigan. Next week, Alabama will travel to No. 10 Arkansas for the Tide's SEC opener. The national championship rematch versus No. 1 LSU will take place on Nov. 3 in Baton Rouge, La., while in-state rival Auburn will travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., Nov. 24 for the annual Iron Bowl matchup.

NFL DRAFT: The Crimson Tide saw eight former UA players selected in the 2012 NFL Draft, including first-round picks Trent Richardson (third overall to the Cleveland Browns), Mark Barron (seventh overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Dre Kirkpatrick (17th overall to the Cincinnati Bengals) and Dont'a Hightower (25th overall to the New England Patriots). Courtney Upshaw was next to go in the second round, and 35th overall pick, to the Baltimore Ravens. The Tide had two drafted in the fifth round with Josh Chapman going to the Indianapolis Colts as the 136th overall pick and DeQuan Menzie to the Kansas City Chiefs as the 146th overall pick. Rounding out the 2012 NFL draft for Alabama was Brad Smelley, who went in the seventh round as the 247th overall pick to the Cleveland Browns. Over the past two seasons, the Tide has had a combined eight first round draft picks, ranking Alabama fourth in most players selected over a two-year span. in the common draft era The Tide also came in a No. 4 on the most defensive players selected in the first round over a three-year span with six.

RETURNING SUCCESS: Alabama returns 12 starters and 43 lettermen from its 2011 squad that won the BCS National Championship, finishing with a record of 12-1. Much of last year's preseason talk was about the Tide's experienced defense, whereas this year it has been much about the veteran offense. Highlighting the list of returnees on the offensive line is senior All-American and Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones, along with senior Chance Warmack and juniors D.J. Fluker and Anthony Steen.

ALABAMA DEGREES: Alabama's success on the field over the past five seasons under the direction of head coach Nick Saban has also coincided with the Crimson Tide's success in the classroom. The 2012 squad features six players that already have degrees in hand, including Barrett Jones (August, 2011), Robert Lester (December, 2011), William Ming (May, 2012), Damion Square (May, 2012), Carson Tinker (August, 2012) and Michael Williams (May, 2012). Over the past five seasons (2008-12) Alabama has seen 58 players compete for the Crimson Tide after having already graduated.

SCHOLARSHIP SENIORS: Alabama is tied for fourth in the nation with the fewest number of scholarship seniors as the Crimson Tide features nine heading into the 2012 campaign. The Crimson Tide was one of four teams in the No. 1 spot until long snapper Carson Tinker was awarded a scholarship by head coach Nick Saban on August 20.

TIDE PLAYERS EARN EARLY ACCOLADES: Twelve Alabama players have been named to 15 different preseason awards watch lists heading into the 2012-13 season. The players have been recognized before the start of the 2012 season as potentially the top players at their position nationally. Jesse Williams leads the way for the Tide appearing on five of the 14 lists, while AJ McCarron, Barrett Jones and Nico Johnson were named to four of the lists. Robert Lester and C.J. Mosley appeared on three difference lists, and Eddie Lacy, D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack on two. Rounding out the preseason watch nods were Michael Williams, Dee Milliner and Jeremy Shelley, making one list apiece. Nico Johnson, Robert Lester, C.J. Mosley and Jesse Williams are all on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player) and are joined by Dee Milliner on the Bronko Nagurski Award (defensive player of the year) list. Lacy has been named to many of the overall player and running back award watch list that have been announced, including the Doak Walker Award (best running back) and the Maxwell Award (most outstanding player). AJ McCarron joins him on the Maxwell watch list, and was also selected to the Manning Award (top quarterback) and the O'Brien Award (nation's best quarterback). McCarron and Barrett Jones were tabbed for the Walter Camp Award (player of the year), while Jones is also nominated for the Outland Award (best interior lineman) and the Rotary Lombardi Award (best lineman or linebacker).

ALABAMA LANDS 12 ON ALL-SEC TEAM: The Tide placed a total of 12 players on the media's Preseason All-SEC team which was voted on at SEC Football Media Days by 222 media voters. Twelve selections ranks the Crimson Tide second in the SEC in selections behind LSU (13). The coaches' preseason All-SEC team voted 11 Crimson Tide players onto the three teams, which was tied with LSU for the most players selected. Alabama's Barrett Jones was selected to the preseason All-SEC team for the third season, this time at center.

FRESHMAN ACADEMICS: Over the past three years, Alabama has had a total of 29 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll recipients, which is a league best. The Crimson Tide was No. 1 in honorees for the 2009-10 season (12) and the 2010-11 season (11). Alabama placed six rookies on the 2011-12 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll including Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Criminal Justice), Phillip Ely (Pre-Business), Ryan Kelly (Pre-Business), Cyrus Kouandjio (Pre-Business), Wilson Love (Pre-Business) and Vinnie Sunseri (Pre-Business).

ALABAMA HAS SECOND MOST WINS SINCE 2008: Alabama has won 49 games dating back to the start of the 2008 season, the second most in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Crimson Tide won 12 games in 2008, followed that with a perfect 14-0 record in 2009, a 10-3 mark in 2010 and a 12-1 record and a national championship in 2011. With Boise State suffering a loss in its 2012 season opener, Alabama is now within one of tying the Broncos for the lead. The Tide has the most victories of any team that plays in a BCS conference.

10-WIN SEASONS: Alabama reached the 10-win milestone for its fourth consecutive seasons, finishing the 2011 campaign with a 12-1 record. The Tide now has 31 10-win seasons in 117 seasons, two back of Oklahoma (33) for the most 10-win seasons in college football. Alabama has had six 10-win season since the 2002 season (2002, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011). Tide head coach Nick Saban is the 11th coach in school history to lead his team to a 10-win season. In addition, Saban is the fifth coach in school history to have more than one 10-win season.

OVER THE LAST 15 GAMES VS. FBS OPPONENTS: Over the last 15 games against opponents from the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, dating back to the 2011 Capital One Bowl against Michigan State, the Alabama defense has allowed only 43.8 rushing yards per game or 657 total rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. The Crimson Tide has allowed 39 rushing yards or less in seven of those 15 games, including two games of negative rushing yards (Michigan State, -48 and Kent State, -9). Only Penn State (107) and LSU (148) have rushed for more than 100 yards. Conversely, Alabama has rushed for 3,023 yards (539 carries) and 40 touchdowns in those 15 games, averaging 201.5 yards per game and 5.61 yards per carry while scoring a touchdown on the ground every 13.5 rushes. Trent Richardson led the way over that span with 1,546 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns on 261 carries for 5.9 yards per tote. Eddie Lacy has now carried 103 times for 750 yards (in 13 games) and 10 touchdowns while averaging 7.3 yards per carry.

MILLINER EXPERIENCE BOLSTERS TIDE DEFENSE: Alabama junior cornerback may not be listed as a returning starter, but it is hard to ignore his starting experience. Milliner's performance against Michigan came in his 18th career start in just over two years of action at the Capstone. He started 11 games as a freshman in 2010 and then served as the Crimson Tide's third cornerback in 2011. He made six starts last season and was on the field more than several starters due to the high percentage of nickel and dime defense UA played in 2011. He has played in 27 career games and has five interceptions to go along with 20 pass breakups and 87 career tackles.

10 POINTS OR LESS: Under head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide has held opponents to 10 points or less 33 times since the start of the 2007 season. Alabama was successful in holding opponents under 10 in 13 games in 2011. In 2010, the Tide held opponents to 10 points or less eight times and limited opponents to that mark seven times in 2008 and 2009. In 2007, Alabama posted two games in which it held opponents to that mark.

FIRST HALF DEFENSE: The Crimson Tide has allowed seven points or less in 17 of its last 18 first halves of play against opponents from the Football Bowl Subdivision. Over that span, Alabama surrendered just three points or less on nine occasions, including six shutouts. UA had a streak of nine straight games before allowing 10 points in the first half to Florida on Oct. 1, 2011.

HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 300: In head coach Nick Saban's 68-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited the opposition to less than 300 yards of total offense 40 times, or 58.8 percent of the time.

HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 200: During head coach Nick Saban's last 54 games at the Capstone, the Crimson Tide defense has held the opposing offense to less than 200 yards of total offense 21 times. Alabama accomplished the feat eight times in 2011, limiting Kent State to 90 total yards, North Texas to 169 total yards, Vanderbilt to 190 total yards, Mississippi to 141 yards, Tennessee to 155 yards, Mississippi State to 131 yards, Auburn to 140 yards and LSU to 92 yards. The 90 yards against Kent State and the 92 yards vs. LSU in the championship game also marked the second and third times a Saban defense has limited its opponent to less than 100 yards of total offense. Alabama's best came in 2009 when they held Chattanooga to 84 yards of total offense. The Tide held opponents under 200 yards three times in 2010, four times in 2009 and six times in 2008.

GROUND DEFENSE: Limiting opposing running backs to less than 100 yards is nothing new for the Crimson Tide. Alabama has surrendered only 10 individual 100-yard rushing games dating back to the 2005 season (91 games), a mark that leads the nation. Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007 (68 games), Alabama has allowed five players to rush for 100 yards in a game: Georgia Southern's Dominique Swope (153 yards), Tennessee's Tauren Poole (117 yards), Mississippi's BenJarvus Green-Ellis (131 yards), Houston's Anthony Alridge (100 yards) and Arkansas' Darren McFadden (195 yards).

TOUGH SLEDDING ON THE GROUND: Alabama leads the nation in giving up the fewest rushing touchdowns since the start of the 2005 season, surrendering only 51. Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007, the Crimson Tide has allowed 33 rushing touchdowns, while Ohio State has allowed 40. In 2010, Alabama surrendered only six rushing touchdowns in 13 games and gave up three in 2011 - one at Penn State, one at Mississippi and one against Georgia Southern. In 2012, Michigan's Denard Robinson was able to run the ball in six yards for a touchdown.

A BALANCED ATTACK: Alabama returned to the nation's elite in 2008 with a punishing ground attack that wore down defenses and took shots down the field. In 2009, the Tide brought more balance to the table on offense. In 2010 Alabama again had excellent balance as the Crimson Tide accounted for a school-record 5,773 yards of total offense (22nd nationally at 444.08 ypg), including 3,395 yards (58.8 percent) in the air and 2,378 (41.2 percent) on the ground. The Tide threw 362 total passes (43.7 percent) - completing 253 (69.9 percent) - while running the ball 467 times (56.3 percent). In 2011, Alabama's offense once again showed itself as being one of the most balanced teams in the nation, by tallying 2,797 yards (215.2 yards per game) in the air and 2,788 yards (214.5 yards per game) on the ground, totaling 5,585 yards last season. In the Tide's 2012 season opener, the balance continued against Michigan as Alabama collected 232 yards rushing in addition to 199 yards receiving.

FINISHING STRONG: Over the last 15 games, dating back to the Capital One Bowl against Michigan State on Jan. 1, 2011, the Crimson Tide has outscored its opponents 416-76 in the final three quarters of games after holding a 127-37 edge in the first quarter. The disparity has grown even wider over the last 12 games where Alabama owned a 97-41 scoring edge in the first quarter and a 369-75 edge in the final three quarters. Alabama outscored its opposition in the second half of its last 12 games by a score of 223-41.

BALL PROTECTION: The Alabama offense has protected the football better than any team in the country over the last five years. In 55 games, the Crimson Tide has turned the ball over just 58 times (31 fumbles, 27 interceptions) for an average of 1.05 turnovers per game, better the Ohio State's second best average of 1.15 per game (61 turnovers, 53 games). Since 2009, that mark is even better as the Tide has turned the ball over just 39 times in 41 games (0.95 per game). Individually since 2009, UA starting quarterbacks have thrown an impressively-low 14 interceptions in 987 attempts (1 INT for every 70.5 attempts). The top two running backs in the rotation dating back to the 2009 season have only lost a fumble four times. Over the 55-game span, the Tide's top two running backs have recorded 1,085 touches, losing the ball just once in every 271 carries.

Barrett Jones DOES IT ALL ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE: Senior All-American Barrett Jones started at right guard in 2009 and 2010, but added a few responsibilities to his résumé in the 2011 season. He started 11 games at left tackle and also saw snaps at left guard, right tackle and center. The winner of the Outland Trophy, Jones has started 36 games at the Capstone. In the 2012 opener against Michigan, Jones returned to the center position and is already listed among the top centers in the nation. In addition to being named the Outland Trophy winner, Jones also received the ARA Sportsmanship Award and the Wuerffel Trophy for his commitment to the community and academics.

O-LINE EXPERIENCE A KEY: The Alabama offensive line enters has been one of the most recognized and skilled groups in the country. Preseason magazines, including Athlon Sports and Phil Steele, rank Alabama's offensive line as the No. 1 unit in the country. Entering the 2012 season, the line represented 95 starts, with senior center Barrett Jones claiming 36 of those starts. Chance Warmack made 26 starts leading up to this season at left guard, while D.J. Fluker was at 22 starts. Junior Anthony Steen made 11 starts prior to the opener at right guard, with the new addition being Cyrus Kouandjio, who saw action last year in eight games before a season-ending ACL injury.

100-YARD RUSHERS AND RECEIVERS: Thirty-eight times in 35 different games Alabama has had rushers exceed 100 yards, and the Tide has had 15 100-yard receivers in 15 games since head coach Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa. Former running back Mark Ingram recorded 12 100-yard rushing games during his career, while Trent Richardson reached 13 100-yard rushing efforts. Current backs Eddie Lacy and Jalston Fowler have tallied two 100-yard games and one 100-yard game, respectively. True freshman T.J. Yeldon joined the list in the 2012 season opener against Michigan, tallying 111 yards on 11 carries and a score. Under Saban, Alabama has gone 34-1 in those 35 games that produced a 100-yard rusher. The Tennessee game on Oct. 23, 2010, marked the sixth time under Saban that Alabama has had a 100-yard rusher and receiver in the same game.

42 NATIONAL TV GAMES IN LAST 54 GAMES: Alabama's appearance in the Fourth Annual Cowboys Classic against Michigan in Arlington, Texas on Sept. 1, 2012, marked the 42nd nationally-televised game since the start of the 2008 season for the Crimson Tide. The game aired before a national audience as it was broadcast on ABC. In 2011, Alabama played on CBS four times, while having one game on ABC, two games on ESPN and ESPN2 with one game on ESPNU. In 2010, Alabama had five games on CBS, three games on ESPN, two games on ESPN2, one on ABC and one on ESPNU. In 2009, UA played two games on ABC, including the BCS National Championship Game, and six games on CBS while ESPN broadcasted two more Crimson Tide games. In 2008, Alabama had 10 of its 14 games broadcasted nationally, including five games on CBS, three games on ESPN, one on ABC and one on FOX.

TIDE 50-3 UNDER SABAN WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF: The Crimson Tide is 50-3 when leading at halftime under head coach Nick Saban. Alabama had a 28-game winning streak snapped in 2010 against LSU. The first two losses came against LSU with the last loss to Auburn in 2010. In 2007, UA held a 20-17 halftime lead before losing, 41-34, on Nov. 3, 2007, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. In 2010, UA led 10-3 at the half before the Tigers rallied for a 24-20 win at Tiger Stadium. The Tide lost 28-27 to Auburn to close out the 2010 season after leading 24-7 at the half. The Crimson Tide is 3-5 under Saban when trailing at halftime and 3-3 when tied at halftime. The three wins when trailing at the half came in a 34-24 win over No. 7 Virginia Tech on Sept. 5, 2009, in Atlanta; a 24-15 victory over No. 9 LSU on Nov. 7, 2009; and a 24-20 win at Arkansas on Sept. 25, 2010. Alabama's three wins when tied at halftime came at LSU on Nov. 8, 2008, (a 27-21 victory), at Auburn with a 26-21 win on Nov. 27, 2009 and against Tennessee on Oct. 22, 2011 (37-6 victory).

NICK'S KIDS: At Michigan State, head coach Nick Saban and his wife, Terry, started the Nick's Kids Foundation, which the Sabans have continued in Tuscaloosa. Since their arrival at the University of Alabama, the Sabans have helped raise more than $2.5 million for "Nick's Kids" that has been distributed to more than 150 charities and organizations throughout the state of Alabama.

ALABAMA'S TV RECORD: Alabama has compiled a 192-126-4 (.602) all-time record in 322 televised games. This does not include pay-per-view, tape-delayed or closed circuit telecasts.

OVERTIME RECORD: Alabama is 4-8 (.333) all-time in overtime games. In its last overtime game, the Crimson Tide lost to LSU 9-6 at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Nov. 5, 2011. Alabama has lost seven of its last 10 overtime games. The Crimson Tide is 4-7 (.363) in overtime games against SEC teams. Alabama is 2-5 (.286) in overtime home games. The Crimson Tide is 3-5 (.375) in single-overtime games.

NEW HIRES: Nick Saban made two new additions to his coaching staff following the 2011 season. Taking over the offensive coordinator role for the departed Jim McElwain (newly hired head coach at Colorado State) is Doug Nussmeier. Nussmeier joins the Crimson Tide staff after three seasons at Washington where his offensive unit improved statistically each year. His offense scored 30 or more points in nine of 13 games last season, while the unit's 57 touchdowns and 431 points were good enough for second in Washington football history. Returning to the Capstone for his second stint on Coach Nick Saban's coaching staff is Lance Thompson. Thompson returns to coach the outside linebackers after spending three years at the University of Tennessee.

TOP AIDES: For the second consecutive year, the Alabama coaching staff was ranked No. 1 in the Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com Top 10 Football Coaching Staffs list. Following the Tide was Oregon, Virginia Tech, Texas, LSU, Ohio State, Boise State, South Carolina, Michigan State and Oklahoma State. Alabama's leadership on the sidelines and in the booth has a wealth of knowledge across all levels of football. The nine-man staff features a former head coach at the Bowl Subdivision level in Bobby Williams (Michigan State). The staff also has four coaches that have spent time as assistant coaches in the NFL in Mike Groh (Jets), Doug Nussmeier (Rams), Kirby Smart (Dolphins) and Bobby Williams (Lions and Dolphins).

GAMEDAY COACHING DUTIES FOR CRIMSON TIDE IN 2012: The Crimson Tide's assistants will be split between the coaches' booth and the sideline in 2012. Nussmeier, Burton Burns, Jeremy Pruitt and Thompson will be in the booth, while Kirby Smart, Chris Rumph, Jeff Stoutland, Bobby Williams and Mike Groh are on the sideline.

CRIMSON TIDE PLAYERS ON NFL ROSTERS: The Alabama football program is well represented in the NFL as it starts the 2012 season with former players and coaches dotting league rosters. The Tide has 47 former players and coaches working in the NFL this season. The Crimson Tide has 36 current NFL players in addition to 11 former UA players and/or coaches serving as assistant coaches in the NFL this season. Over the last four years, Alabama has had more NFL first round picks than any other school (11), including four in each of the past two drafts.