Countdown to Kickoff
No. 2 Alabama Hosts Kentucky



Sept. 29, 2008

Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008 - 2:30 p.m. (CDT) - CBS
Bryant-Denny Stadium (92,138) - Tuscaloosa, Ala.

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The University of Alabama football returns home to face its third straight undefeated opponent with 4-0 Kentucky visiting Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The game is slated to kickoff at 2:30 p.m. (CDT) and will be televised nationally by CBS with Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Tracy Wolfson calling the action. The Wildcats are coming off of a 41-3 win over Western Kentucky last Saturday in Lexington. It will be the UK’s SEC opener after wins at Louisville and at home against Norfolk State and Middle Tennessee to begin the season.

HEAD COACH Nick Saban: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) is in his second season with the Crimson Tide. He was named the school’s 27th head coach on Jan. 3, 2007. Saban has compiled a 103-48-1 (.681) record as a collegiate head coach, including an 12-6 (.667) mark at Alabama and a 5-0 record in 2008. He captured his 100th career victory in week two against Tulane and coached his 150th game as a collegiate head coach in week three vs. Western Kentucky. Saban led LSU to a 13-1 record and the BCS National Championship in 2003. Overall, Saban has coached three conference championship teams (1990 Mid-American, 2001 SEC and 2003 SEC) and nine of his 12 teams have played in post-season bowl games. Saban is one of just two Football Bowl Subdivision coaches that have been head coaches for at least 10 years and have never suffered a losing season. For more information on Coach Saban, please see pages 11-12 of this notes package.

RANKINGS: Alabama moved up six spots in the Associated Press rankings this week to No. 2, behind Oklahoma. The Crimson Tide also jumped six spots in the USA Today Coaches poll to No. 4, behind OU, LSU and Missouri. The No. 2 ranking is the highest for Alabama since they opened the 1993 season at No. 2 and remained there through the first eight polls of the season. The Tide posted a 17-17 tie with Tennessee in Birmingham on Oct. 16, 1993 and fell to No. 4. Since that time the Crimson Tide has reached has high as No. 3 in the AP poll on three occasions: prior to the 1994 Florida game, to start the 2000 season and prior to the Tide’s 2005 game against LSU. They lost all three of those games and slipped in the rankings.

TIDE RANKED NO. 2: Alabama is ranked No. 2 in this week’s Associated Press poll, its highest ranking since the 1993 season. The last time Alabama was ranked No. 2 in the AP poll was the Oct. 10, 1993 poll prior to a 17-17 tie with Tennessee on Oct. 16, 1993 at Legion Field. The Crimson Tide was ranked No. 2 in the AP poll for the first eight polls of the 1993 season. The Kentucky game will be the Tide’s 54th game when ranked No. 2 in the AP poll. Alabama is 44-7-2 when ranked No. 2 in the AP poll, including a 10-game unbeaten streak. Prior to this week, the last time Alabama was ranked in the Top 5 came on Nov. 6, 2005, when UA was ranked third in the AP poll before losing to No. 5 LSU 16-13 in overtime at Bryant-Denny Stadium. This will be the highest-ranked Alabama team to play in Bryant-Denny Stadium since a 43-3 win over Arkansas on Sept. 18, 1993. This is also the highest-ranked Alabama team to face Kentucky since the No. 1 ranked Tide’s 45-0 win over the Wildcats at Legion Field on Oct. 4, 1980.

HARRIS INTERACTIVE RELEASED: The first Harris Interactive College Football Poll was released on Sunday, Sept. 28, with the Alabama Crimson Tide coming in at No. 3. The Harris Interactive rankings consist of a panel of former coaches, players and administrators along with current and former members of the media. Alabama garnered 2,601 points, trailing Oklahoma (2,835) and LSU (2,637). OU received 102 first-place votes while Alabama got seven, LSU three and Missouri and Texas each picked up one.

KENTUCKY SERIES: Alabama leads the Kentucky series 33-2-1, including a perfect 8-0 mark in Tuscaloosa and an undefeated 19-0-1 record in the state of Alabama. UA has a 7-0-1 mark in Birmingham and a 4-0 record in Montgomery against the Wildcats. It is the first meeting between the two schools since 2004 and the Tide has a two-game winning streak in the series with a 27-17 win in Tuscaloosa in 2003 and a 45-17 win in Lexington in 2004. UK’s last win in the series was a 40-34 overtime win in Lexington in 1997.

TRUE FRESHMAN PARTICIPATION: Alabama is fourth nationally in true freshman participation. The Crimson Tide has played 15 true freshmen during the 2008 season. Alabama has had two true freshman starters while 13 others made contributions. Florida State leads the nation with 22 true freshmen seeing time in its opener while Miami has started 21 and Arkansas 16.

NINE SCHOLARSHIP SENIORS FEWEST IN NATION: Alabama boasts just nine scholarship seniors on the 2008 team and that mark is tied with Middle Tennessee for the fewest in the country. Antoine Caldwell, Marlon Davis, Bobby Greenwood, Rashad Johnson, Travis McCall, Will Oakley, Nikita Stover, Nick Walker and John Parker Wilson make up the Crimson Tide’s nine scholarship seniors.

FRESHMEN IMPACT: Several members of the Crimson Tide’s touted 2008 recruiting class have already made a significant impact on the field. Freshman running back Mark Ingram (Flint, Mich.) ranks second on the team in rushing with 56.0 yards per game (280 yards on 50 carries) and a team-best five touchdowns. Rookie wide receiver Julio Jones leads the team in receptions (16), receiving yards (226 or 45.2 per game) and touchdowns (4). On the other side of the football, Dont’a Hightower is fifth on the team in tackles with 19 stops - eight solo - in five games (3.8 tackles per game). Hightower has also forced one fumble and recovered two more to rank tied for third in the SEC at .40 per game. Junior college transfer Terrence Cody has also cast a large shadow for the Tide defense, the 6-5, 365-pound nose guard has 13 tackles on the season with 3.5 tackles for loss (-8) while also causing and recovering a fumble.

FIRST-TIME PLAYERS: Alabama has played 15 true freshmen and seen 26 different newcomers contributing early in the 2008 campaign, including seven redshirt freshmen and one junior college transfer. The Crimson Tide had 12 players make their Alabama debuts against Clemson: true freshman Julio Jones (WR), true freshman Mark Ingram (RB), true freshman B.J. Scott (WR), redshirt freshman Marquis Maze (WR), true freshman Chris Jackson (WR), true freshman Dont’a Hightower (LB), true freshman Chris Jordan (LB), junior transfer Terrence Cody (DT), true freshman Mark Barron (DB), redshirt freshman Chris Underwood (TE), true freshman Marcel Dareus (DL) and true freshman Robby Green (DB). Three more true freshmen made their debut in the home opener against Tulane with linebackers Jerrell Harris and Courtney Upshaw along with place-kicker Corey Smith. The Tide then played three more true freshmen against Western Kentucky as offensive tackles, John Michael Boswell, Barrett Jones and Tyler Love got playing time. Redshirt freshmen Robert Ezell, Brandon Gibson, Demetrius Goode, Darius Hanks and Sam Snider have also seen action.

NEXT GAME: Alabama will enjoy an off week on Oct. 11 before returning to its SEC schedule against Mississippi on Oct. 18 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide owns a 44-9-2 edge in the all-time series with the Rebels, including four straight wins. The Tide is 5-5 against current Mississippi head coach Houston Nutt, who coached at Arkansas from 1998-2007. The Rebels’ last win was a 42-28 triumph in Oxford in 2003.