Alabama: The Crimson Tide are coming off a dominating performance in their last contest, the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, a 42-14 win over Notre Dame. That win gave them their second national championship in as many years. In that game, the Tide opened up the scoring less than three minutes into the game with a 20-yard run by Eddie Lacy. They upped the score to 14-0 six minutes later with a short pass from AJ McCaron to Michael Williams. The Tide continued their onslaught four seconds int0 the second, making it 21-0 on a 1-yard T.J. Yeldon run. They closed the half out with a 28-0 lead after an 11-yard pass from McCaron to Lacy with half a minute remaining. The Tide opened the third quarter by scoring first as well, this time on a 34-yard pass from McCaron to Amari Cooper. Everrett Golson finally answered three minutes later with a 2-yard plunge, making it 35-7 Alabama. But the Tide weren't through, as McCaron found Cooper again on a 19-yard pass to put to bed any chance of a comeback (no matter how farfetched such a comeback would be). Golson found Theo Riddick on a 6-yard pass to make it 42-14 and end the scoring midway through the fourth.
Trends: The Hokies lost 34-24 to the Crimson Tide in their last meeting in 2009, another season-opening match up between the two teams in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game. The Hokies led for over 27 minutes in that game, including the entire third quarter. The Crimson Tide stalled on several first quarter drives, jumping out to a 6-0 lead before Dyrell Roberts put the Hokies on the board with a 98-yard kick return on the ensuing kickoff. Alabama jumped back in front before the close of the first quarter with a third Leigh Tiffin field goal to make it 9-7. The Hokies opened up the scoring in the second with a 28-yard Matt Waldron field goal to put them up 10-9. But the Crimson Tide responded over five minutes later with a 19-yard jaunt by Roy Upchirch to give them a 16-10 advantage. The Hokies went back ahead just before half on a 1-yard Ryan Williams score, giving Tech a 17-16 edge at the break. They held that lead throughout the third quarter before a 6-yard Mark Ingram run and subsequent 2-point conversion early in the fourth quarter gave Alabama a 24-17 lead. Two minutes later Alabama added to their lead to make it 27-17, the first double-digit lead of the game. Tech responded quickly with a breathtaking 32-yard touchdown run by Ryan Williams, which pulled the Hokies within 3 with over nine minutes remaining. But the Tide once again added to their advantage on an 18-yard Greg McElroy pass to Mark Ingram with just over six minutes left. After that point, the Hokies' offense stalled and Tyrod Taylor was under constant assault from the Alabama defense. In all, Alabama totaled 5 sacks against the Hokies and dominated both the time of possession (37:02 to 22:58) and total offense (498 yards to 155 yards). The Hokies also went a combined 2-13 on 3rd and 4th down conversions. Alabama went on to win the National Championship, their first under Nick Saban and their first of three in the next four seasons. The Hokies finished 10-3, capped by a 37-14 thrashing of Tennessee in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
History Lesson: The following information is all provided via Hokiesports.com. Virginia Tech has played Alabama a total of 12 times, with only two of them coming under Frank Beamer (1998 and 2009). Beamer holds a 1-1 record against Alabama and a 1-1 record against Nick Saban (the win came against LSU in 2002). The Hokies are 1-11 in the series with the Crimson Tide. The series began in 1932, a 9-6 victory by the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Tide won the first 10 games of the series, shutting out the Hokies thrice. Tech has only hosted Alabama once, with the remainder of those games coming in Tuscaloosa or a "neutral" site. Tech is 0-8 against the Tide when they are ranked, and 0-1 when the Tide are ranked No. 1. Their only victory came when neither team was ranked, a 38-7 Tech victory in the inaugural Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tn. (rankings data dates back to 1950, the earliest year of Hokiesports' poll of choice, the Coaches' Poll).
What to Expect
Offensively, the Crimson Tide run a Pro-Style offense.
On defense, Alabama announces publicly that it runs a 3-4 scheme, but often can be seen lining up in 4-3 as well.
The Crimson Tide finished the 2012 season ranked No. 31 nationally in total offense with 445.5 yards per game.
They ranked No. 75 in the nation in passing offense with 218 yards per game.
The Tide also finished No. 16 nationally in rushing offense, with 227.5 yards per game.
In total defense, the Tide ranked No. 1 nationally, giving up just 250 yards per game. They also finished top in scoring defense, giving up 10.93 points per game.
The Crimson Tide also finished No. 1 in rushing defense, giving up 76.36 yards per game on the ground, and No. 7 nationally in passing defense, giving up 173.64 yards per game through the air.
Alabama returns a two-year starter in quarterback AJ McCaron. In 2012, McCaron passed for 2,933 yards and 30 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions while completing over 67 percent of his passes with a 175.3 passer rating which led the nation.
On the ground, the Tide's leading returning rusher is sophomore running back T.J. Yeldon, who rushed for 1,1o8 yards and 12 touchdowns with a 6.3 average last year as Alabama's second running back behind Eddie Lacy. Yeldon also caught 11 passes out of the backfield for 131 yards and a touchdown.
The Tide were also led by another freshman in the receiving corps a year ago in Amari Cooper, who pulled in 59 balls for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Hokies Win If: They play a perfect game in all phases. This team will be one of the best, if not the best, the Hokies have faced in program history.
Crimson Tide Win If: They play like they always play and do not beat themselves. Without serious help from the Tide, the Hokies will need a miraculous performance to knock off Alabama.
Dot-dot-dots: With the win over Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl, Frank Beamer moved into sole possession of sixth place all-time in wins among FBS coaches with 258, passing the legendary LaVell Edwards. The average score in the series is a 32-11 Alabama advantage. The Hokies have been shutout in the series three times (none since 1978), while the Crimson Tide have never been shutout by the Hokies. Individually, Logan Thomas needs just 75 passing attempts to pass Will Furrer for the most passes attempted in program history (920). He also needs only 29 more completions to tie Tyrod Taylor for the most all time in program history with 495. The Hokies are 2-1 all-time on August 31.