No. 13 Alabama in unfamiliar role, underdog to No. 8 Georgia
Sep. 28, 2015
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama finds itself cast in the unfamiliar role of underdog with something to prove.
The 13th-ranked Crimson Tide, for so long accustomed to favored status every fall Saturday, heads to No. 8 Georgia Saturday trying to pull off what odds makers say would be a minor upset.
"I think we take pride in our reputation that we've built around here the last few years and just the standard that we hold ourselves to every time we go out there and play," cornerback Cyrus Jones said on Monday. "The fact that we're underdogs, I think it just gives us that more motivation to go out there and just kind of reclaim our reputation and how we want to be viewed by the rest of the league and the rest of the country."
The Bulldogs (4-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) were installed as modest 2.5-point favorites to open the week. The higher ranked home team being picked to win is only notable because Alabama (3-1, 0-1) hasn't been an underdog since the 2009 SEC championship game against Florida. It's been 72 games and three national titles before it's now happened again.
The Tide does have much to prove after a 43-37 loss to No. 3 Mississippi two weeks ago that prompted a players-only meeting.
Alabama had five turnovers in that game and mustered 303 total yards in a 34-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe after that come-together session.
The focus, linebacker Reggie Ragland said, was on "players just being together and quit worrying about the outside."
"We can't worry about what other people say because people are going to talk regardless," Ragland said. "We don't care about when people talk about us because we have to play football regardless. It's still a long season and we'll see at the end of the season."
Questions remain about a young receiving corps hindered by Robert Foster's shoulder injury, and the secondary that was victimized on a couple of big plays against Ole Miss. Quarterback Jake Coker, meanwhile, has thrown four interceptions in the last three games.
Now, they'll face Nick Chubb and a Georgia team that has outscored it first four opponents by an average of 32 points a game.
Center Ryan Kelly said Tide players pay no attention to whether they're favored or underdogs. The meeting was designed to bring the team together amid the criticism for a program that is.18-6 against Top 10 opponents since 2008.
"When you're on top of the world, everybody's praising your name, but then you lose one game and it kind of goes down the hill," Kelly said. "At the end of the day, it's all the guys in that room. We're the guys that have to go out there every day and practice, bleed together, sweat together. Nobody else is doing that besides us.
"At the end of the day, it doesn't matter about anybody else's opinion about what we do. It's about that room, who's on the field. We come together when things go bad and move on from there."
For coach Nick Saban, it's how you respond to a loss that matters. So far, he likes what he sees.
"I have a lot of faith in this team," he said.
Offensively, Alabama could get a boost with the return of freshman tailback Bo Scarbrough from a four-game NCAA suspension for an unspecified issue. The former five-star prospect has also been medically cleared from a knee injury sustained during the offseason.
"We'll work hard to try to create a role for him," Saban said. "It may take some time to get him back in the groove of things but that's certainly the plan."
AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org