TUSCALOOSA, AL (WSFA) - After defeating the number one team in the nation a week ago, the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide gets a breather this weekend as they take on FCS opponent Western Carolina University.
The Crimson Tide defeated the number one ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs 25-20 at Bryant-Denny Stadium this past weekend to move into the top spot in the SEC West.
The Crimson Tide did a good job of shutting down the high powered Mississippi State offense, holding the Bulldogs to just three points and 148 yards at the half and forcing an interception.
The Bulldogs made a surge in the second half, but the Crimson Tide defense picked off Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott two more times, helping Alabama hold on to win.
Now Alabama gets a relatively easy week with Western Carolina before hosting long-time rival, the Auburn Tigers.
Even though head coach Nick Saban would never admit it, this week's game against the Catamounts will be a tune up game in order to prepare his team for the game against the Tigers.
This is the fourth time that the Crimson Tide has faced Western Carolina since 2002, and in that time Alabama has won all three matchups and outscored the Catamounts 153-6. The Crimson Tide, however, was forced to vacate the win in 2007, so Alabama is officially 2-0 against the Catamounts since 2002.
The game on Saturday will most likely feature both Blake Sims and Jacob Coker at the quarterback position.
Once Alabama builds up a large enough lead behind Sims for Saban's liking, look for Coker to see action for the first time since the game against Texas A&M over a month ago.
Figured to be the starter for Alabama this season, Coker has seen action in only five games and has only thrown at least one pass in four of those games. Even with though stats, Coker has thrown three touchdowns this season.
Running backs TJ Yeldon and Derrick Henry will also see some action against the Catamounts, but with the big game against Auburn next week Alabama will most likely pull them early on to keep them fresh for the Tigers. Instead, look for Alabama to use a combination of Jalston Fowler and Altee Tenpenny at running back.
It was stated on Monday that Tenpenny had been suspended for the game against Mississippi State due to him being late to a meeting. It is not clear yet if Tenpenny will play this Saturday, but with the thin Alabama running back corp. due to injuries, look for Altee to suit up and have a good amount of carries.
One thing to watch for early on in Saturday's game is Amari Cooper's reception total.
Cooper, who owns just about every Alabama receiving record, is just four receptions away from breaking DJ Hall's Alabama career record for receptions. Cooper already owns the Alabama career record for receiving yards with 3,039 yards, which he broke against LSU. In the same game against LSU, Cooper also broke the Alabama single-season record for receptions, with 87, and Alabama single-season record for receiving yards, with 1,303, both of which were previously held by Julio Jones.
Cooper is also the leader in career receiving touchdowns, with 26, single-season receiving touchdowns, with eleven, and single-game receiving touchdowns with three.
Once Cooper gets his four receptions, and maybe a touchdown, look for Cooper to also be pulled to get some rest in preparation for Auburn. That will open the way for Christion Jones and Chris Black to get some field time heading into the Iron Bowl.
Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. and the game will be televised on the SEC Network.