Utah State at No. 1 Alabama

  • Kickoff: Saturday, 5:30 p.m. MDT.
  • Venue: Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821 capacity).
  • TV: SEC Network.
  • Livestream: WatchESPN
  • Radio: Sirius XM 381 / SXM App 971.
  • Series: The Aggies and Crimson Tide have only met twice ever prior to this season, in 2004 and again in 2005.
  • Weather: Mostly cloudy with temperatures in the high 70s at kickoff, with a 21% chance of precipitation.

The trends

For Utah State: The Aggies are 1-0 after a season opening win over UConn. Utah State started slow against the Huskies and — setting aside the second quarter — wasn’t at its best, but still managed to come away with the victory.

For Alabama: The Crimson Tide are opening their season against the Aggies. Ranked No. 1 in the country, Alabama is expected to once against contend for a national title after losing to Georgia in the 2021 national championship game.

What to watch for

Just how good is Alabama? Were Utah State’s struggles against UConn simple rust or something else?

Those are some of the major questions entering Saturday’s contest between the Crimson Tide and Aggies.

Alabama opens its season with the Aggies and expectations remain as high as ever in Tuscaloosa. Under Nick Saban, Alabama has been the most consistent power in college football and has the most College Football Playoff appearances (7), wins (9) and national championships (3), since the CFP was instituted in 2014.

Ranked No. 1 in the AP preseason poll, Alabama should be right in the mix for another national title this season.

Utah State struggled a bit in its season opener against UConn. The Huskies’ size proved problematic at times and the Aggies struggled to find any sort of consistent momentum on offense. Defensively, poor tackling and positioning plagued Utah State, especially early.

The reigning Mountain West Conference champions should improve from Week 0 to Week 1, though it would take a perfect game for the Aggies to challenge the Crimson Tide.

Key player

Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) celebrates a defensive stop against LSU during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Anderson was named to The Associated Press preseason All-America team on Monday, Aug. 22, 2022. | Vasha Hunt, Associated Press

Will Anderson, LB, Alabama: Most weeks, the most important player probably should be a quarterback and that would initially seem to be the case against Alabama, given the Crimson Tide boast quarterback Bryce Young, the reigning Heisman Trophy award winner.

There is also a case to be made for running back Jahmyr Gibbs, a transfer from Georgia Tech might be the best running back in the country.

And yet, Anderson has been regularly talked about as being Alabama’s best player and the best overall player in all of college football.

Slowed for parts of last season with injuries, Anderson still racked up 101 tackles and 17.5 sacks in 2021, with the consensus being that he is capable of improving on those numbers this year.

Anderson is one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy this year, despite playing solely on defense.


“They (Alabama) are maybe the best team on the planet. There are just no weaknesses. They are a huge challenge for our guys. We have to focus on us, focus on getting better. We cannot focus on Alabama this week or we will go in starry eyed and then look up at halftime and the game will be over. ... If we don’t play our best ball I know exactly how it will go and none of us will like it.” — Utah State head coach Blake Anderson, on facing Alabama.

“Blake Anderson has done a really good job there. This team (Utah State) can play really in any conference and do well. ... They were one of the most effective passing teams in the country a year ago. These guys are very aggressive on defense, they create a lot of negative plays, they get a lot of turnovers and they have their specialists back.” — Alabama head coach Nick Saban, on facing Utah State.

Next up

Utah State returns home to face in-state FCS power Weber State on Sept. 10. Alabama, meanwhile, will travel to Austin to take on Texas.

Utah State schedule

Aug. 27 — Utah State 31, UConn 20.

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Sept. 3 — Utah State at No. 1 Alabama.

Sept. 10 — Utah State vs. Weber State.

Sept. 17 — BYE.

Sept. 24 — Utah State vs. UNLV.

Sept. 29 — Utah State at No. 25 BYU.

Oct. 8 — Utah State vs. Air Force.

Oct. 15 — Utah State at Colorado State.

Oct. 22 — Utah State at Wyoming.

Oct. 29 — BYE.

Nov. 5 — Utah State vs. New Mexico.

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Nov. 12 — Utah State at Hawaii.

Nov. 19 — Utah State vs. San José State.

Nov. 25 — Utah State at Boise State.

All times MDT.

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