Three Stats That Give Alabama a Big Advantage Against Kentucky
When the Crimson Tide heads to the Bluegrass State on Saturday, it will take on a team that's given some of the best teams in the country problems. The Wildcats have been competitive this season against Louisville, Florida, and South Carolina in consecutive weeks.
Despite showing flashes of solid play, Kentucky won't have as much luck this weekend because of three statistics:
1. 3rd Down Conversions
Kentucky has been dreadful trying to convert on third down. In three home games this season, the Wildcats have only managed to convert five first downs! Louisville prevented its arch-rival from successfully converting a single first down (0-13) three weeks ago. Meanwhile, Alabama allows third-down conversions only 30% of the time, which is second-best in the SEC. For Kentucky to have any success in this game, it will need to be able to sustain drives and put points on the board, but that will be a huge challenge if trends continue.
2. Long Rushing Plays
Alabama has started to find its running game after a slow start. The team has rushed for 435 yards the past two games (217 ypg) after totaling an SEC-worst 326 yards through the first three games (108 ypg). Kentucky's rush defense has only Texas A&M to thank for keeping it out of the conference cellar. Not only does the Big Blue have problems stopping the run, it gives rushing yards up in big chunks. Kentucky is one of only 26 teams in FBS that have allowed double-digit rushes of 20+ yards this year. That spells trouble with T.J. Yeldon (6.18 ypc) and Kenyan Drake (7.11 ypc) coming to town.
3. Time of Possession
One of Alabama's keys to success under Nick Saban has been controlling the time of possession. In doing so, the Crimson Tide wears down opposing defenses and takes advantage in the fourth quarter. This game shouldn't still be competitive that late but expect Alabama to dominate possession from the opening kickoff. Kentucky is 116th in the nation with an average time of possession of 26:21 while the Crimson is 12th at 33:21. And it's difficult to imagine the Wildcats are fresh after the previous three games, which should only add to Alabama's advantage.