W. Kentucky-Alabama Preview

The Associated Press

With an eye-opening win over a highly ranked opponent, Alabama showed that it might have a strong shot at another national title.

Coach Nick Saban, though, doesn't want his now No. 1-ranked team to forget about all of the steps needed before another potential trip to the BCS championship.

The Crimson Tide will try to build on their dominating season opener Saturday against visiting Western Kentucky, a game that will serve as a tuneup for next week's showdown to begin conference play.

Despite a number of new faces, Alabama showed a fierceness in its first game that was reminiscent of last year's BCS title game win over LSU.

The Tide scored the first 31 points in a 41-14 win over then-No. 8 Michigan on Saturday and outgained the Wolverines 431-269. They intercepted star quarterback Denard Robinson three times, with C.J. Mosley returning one of the picks for a touchdown in the second quarter.

Alabama's A.J. McCarron threw for a pair of TDs and freshman T.J. Yeldon rushed for 111 yards and a score.

The result was the Tide moving past Southern California for the top spot in the AP poll. Even before that happened, Saban insisted not much had changed for his team.

"Everyone thought we were too young, too inexperienced, couldn't handle success," he said Monday. "Everybody was saying all those things about our team. Now, people are saying something different. But my question is what's different? Nothing.

"We're still young. We're still inexperienced. We've still got things to work on. It's going to be all about the maturity that the team has to be able to focus on what they need to do to correct the deficits that we have."

Alabama will try to do so against Western Kentucky (1-0) before facing No. 8 Arkansas on Sept. 15.

"(Saban) told us that (the Michigan win) was just the first game, so don't get all hyped up about that because we've got a lot more games to come and we've got a lot more improvement to do," Mosley said.

The Tide might not want to overlook the Hilltoppers, who also posted a lopsided victory in their opener last week, albeit against a lesser foe than Michigan.

Senior Kawaun Jakes had a career-high four touchdowns passes in a 49-10 win over Austin Peay and threw for 296 yards, helping his team finish with 596 total yards - its most in seven years. Leon Allen rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown in his collegiate debut.

Western Kentucky won its opener for the first time since 2005, as the Hilltoppers played major conference opponents to start each of its previous six seasons - three of which were ranked at the time.

They're 0-8 all-time against Top 25 foes.

"We feel like we can compete with anybody. They are human just like us. We have to go out there with confidence, play within ourselves, play together, play as one heartbeat and go out there and compete," Jakes said.

"This is my last go-around. We want everyone to play like it is their last go-around. No matter who it is, we are going to play together and play to win."

Alabama won 41-7 in its only meeting with Western Kentucky on Sept. 13, 2008.

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