When Paul Chryst agreed to become the next head football coach at Wisconsin, you have to wonder if he saw who his first game would be against.
That’s because his first game is against the Alabama Crimson Tide, at night, in Dallas, on national television.
“Without question it’s a heck of a first game, an introduction to Wisconsin Badgers football having to take on Alabama,” Tuscaloosa News and TideSports.com writer Aaron Suttles said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “But Alabama’s got some questions of its own. We’ll find out what they have. Alabama doesn’t know much about Paul Chryst. And to do so without Melvin Gordon, he’s gone. And to do so with a quarterback that you don’t have a lot of answers on – we’ll find out a lot about Paul Chryst (on Saturday), no doubt.”
Wisconsin will likely try to stack the box against Derrick Henry, especially given the Tide’s uncertainty at quarterback.
“I think it’ll be Jake Coker first out, but I also expect Cooper Bateman will play,” Suttles said. “I think Alabama will play two quarterbacks unless Coker comes out and absolutely lights it up, which I don’t see happening. I think Wisconsin, which has got a very underrated defense, will stack the box and they’ll dare Jake Coker to beat them over the top. You’re going to see a lot of Derrick Henry. And eventually, if the game plays out the way I think it will, I think it’ll be closer than people expect, but I think Alabama’s depth eventually will wear Wisconsin down.”
Alabama will also welcome back Kenyan Drake, who last season broke his leg against Ole Miss.
“Lane Kiffin loves the way he can use him – not only just as a running back, but as a pass catcher too in creating match-ups,” Suttles said. “He likened him to Reggie Bush when he had him out at USC. So he’s the X-factor in my mind.”
Wisconsin, meanwhile, will lean heavily on Corey Clement, who last year had 1,000+ total yards and 11 touchdowns.
“I think he’s a pretty darn good back considering he backed up Melvin Gordon – who was, oh by the way, a finalist for the Heisman Trophy and finished runner-up up – and Corey Clement still almost rushed for 1,00 yards,” Suttles said. “That’s how good that guy is. I believe he’s first team preseason all Big Ten, which has got Elliott from Ohio State in that conference too. So Alabama knows they’re going to have their work cut out for them. You mentioned the legacy with Wisconsin running backs – how good they are producing them. And if you really think about it, offensive linemen too. Those guys know how to run block. Fortunately for Alabama, that’s the strength of their team – the front seven, particularly the defensive line, which, no hyperbole, runs about three-deep across the board. They should be able to stay fresh. So fortunately for Alabama fans, if you’re looking at that matchup, you’ve got to think that over time, it should favor Alabama.”