TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — When the Kent State game was announced, it was viewed as Alabama coach Nick Saban doing a solid for his alma mater.
Saban attended Kent State, where he played defensive back. It’s also where he got his coaching start as a graduate assistant under the legendary Don James, one of the few men who had a legitimate impact on Saban’s life and the way he coaches.
This game won’t be competitive. It won’t be fun to watch. It’s scheduled the week before Kentucky which means we’ll have two weeks of crappy games for Alabama.
Alabama and Kent State’s only previous meeting took place in Tuscaloosa in 2011. The Crimson Tide won 48-7. Alabama paid $1.2 million for that victory.
If you’re a fan, this is the type of game you hate when your athletic director schedules it. But Alabama is paying Kent State $1.5 million, which is sort of a way for Saban to give back to his old school.
2015 record: 3-9, 2-6 Mid-American Conference
Coach: Paul Haynes, 4th year, 9-26 overall
Returning starters: 9 offense, 8 defense
Game time: TBA
Matchup to watch
Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley vs. Kent State cornerback Demetrius Monday
Monday is one of eight returning starters to what should be a loaded defense for Kent State. Last season, Monday led the Golden Flashes with six interceptions.
Monday is one of three first-team All-MAC performers returning this season for the Golden Flashes.
A freshman All-American in 2015, Ridley set Alabama freshman records with 89 receptions for 1,045 yards. His 89 receptions also were an SEC freshman record and the second-most in FBS history by a true freshman. He was selected to the Sporting News and SEC All-Freshman teams and was chosen to the All-SEC Second Team by the Associated Press. Seventeen of his catches went for 15-plus yards, and five of his seven scores came on plays of 30 yards or more. Ridley had a team-leading 44 receptions for a first down or score.
Why Alabama will win
Kent State’s defense could make this one interesting early. With all the talent the Golden Flashes return and the question marks Alabama has on defense, it wouldn’t be a complete shock if it’s close for a quarter.
The problem is that Kent State really struggles to score. Last season, the Golden Flashes posted 20 or more points just three times. That lack of offensive production doesn’t bode well when facing a defense like Alabama’s.
This should provide Alabama with another opportunity to get some young players experience before the meat of the SEC schedule hits.
Alabama 45, Kent State 7