Football preview: Alabama rolls into College Station to face Texas A&M, UAB has another road test at UTSA

Football preview: Alabama rolls into College Station to face Texas A&M, UAB has another road test at UTSA
Devonta Smith goes airborne during Alabama's game with Ole Miss two weeks ago. The No. 1 Crimson Tide follows a bye week with a road game at Texas A&M. (Kristen Taylor/University of Alabama Athletics)

Center Chris Owens was the only player Nick Saban cited in the injury report during his weekly press conference Monday.

The Crimson Tide coach said Owens “has a little knee problem” and “will be day to day and questionable” for Alabama’s game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at No. 24 Texas A&M on CBS.

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa leads the offense against Ole Miss. Head Coach Nick Saban said he has been pleased with the play of his offensive line. (Robert Sutton/University of Alabama Athletics)

Owens’ injury brings attention to an offensive line that has prompted media questions about its ability to drive the No. 1 Tide’s running game. But Saban said the unit has done a good job, particularly in pass protection.

“We’re going to need to continue that as we play against better defensive teams, better rushers,” he said. “I think the big focus has been to finish blocks, finish plays so that we can finish runs and create the kind of balance that we’d like to have offensively.

“I think we’ve been pretty good at getting a hat on a hat,” Saban continued. “I’m not disappointed in any way, shape or form with the offensive line and the progress that they’ve made. But as you know, every group on our team would say there are obviously things that we could do better.”

Last week, UAB withstood two substantial weather delays that resulted in the longest game in program history to defeat Rice 35-20 at Legion Field. The win sends the Blazers to the Alamodome for their 5 p.m. Saturday game against the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The defending Conference USA champ Blazers lost their league opener at Western Kentucky on Sept. 28 at Bowling Green, Kentucky.

“Any time you go on the road in the conference, it’s different,” UAB coach Bill Clark said. “I think there were some things about that (WKU) game that we would love to have back. You just look at individual performances from a turnover standpoint, which is not a big characteristic of us.

“What does a road conference game look like and how important is it? We have been on the road already at Akron,” Clark continued. “You just put all those things together and have to be better on the road.”

In other college action this week:

Miles at Benedict College: Like UAB, the Golden Bears had a long night last Saturday. Miles’ homecoming contest ended with victory at 1:30 a.m. Miles (4-1) will try to run its Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record to 3-0 at 1 p.m. Central on Saturday in Columbus, Georgia.

Jacksonville State at Eastern Illinois: The Gamecocks (4-2) are No. 17 in the STATS FCS Top 25 and No. 18 in the FCS Coaches Poll. They’ll kick off in Charleston, Illinois at noon Saturday.

Birmingham-Southern at Rhodes: After a week off, the Panthers (2-2) head up Interstate 22 to Memphis, looking to climb over .500 in a game that kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Maryville (Tenn.) at Huntingdon: The Hawks (2-2) face the Scots at 1 p.m. Saturday.

It’s homecoming week for Coach Brett Gilliland’s 3-2 West Alabama Tigers, who welcome Shorter. (University of West Alabama Athletics)

Shorter at West Alabama: Since opening with two wins, the Tigers have sandwiched a win between two losses for a 3-2 record. Their homecoming game kicks off at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Samford at VMI: The Bulldogs (3-3) went 1-1 in back-to-back games against top 25 teams. Saturday, they face the unranked Keydets at 12:30 p.m. Central on Nextar/ESPN+.

Morehouse at Tuskegee: The 84th annual Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic is at 1 p.m. Saturday in Columbus, Georgia. Tuskegee’s Golden Tigers are 1-4; the Maroon Tigers are 2-3.

Alabama State at Jackson State: The Hornets (2-3) have had their downs and ups this season, alternating wins and losses since falling to UAB in their opener. ASU and Jackson State (1-4) kick off in Mississippi at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Alabama A&M at Grambling State: The Bulldogs are 4-2 and 1-1 in the East Division of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, second only to Alcorn State (4-2 overall and 3-0 in the league). Grambling is 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the West Division. Kickoff is Saturday at 2 p.m.

South Alabama at Troy: The Drive Safe Alabama “Battle for the Belt” is a rivalry that is must-see for fans of both the Jaguars (1-5) and the Trojans (2-3). Kickoff for this midweek Sun Belt Conference contest is 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 16.

Off this weekend: Auburn, North Alabama.

HIGH SCHOOLS

Class 7A: The marquee game among the state’s big schools is in the Mobile area with a pair of 6-0 teams squaring off. Theodore, No. 6 in the latest Alabama Sports Writers Association poll, travels to No. 2 McGill-Toolen Catholic.

Class 6A: Repeating the theme above, No. 7 Bessemer City heads to No. 4 Hueytown. Each is 6-0.

Class 5A: Sylacauga hosts No. 6 Center Point. Each is 6-1.

Class 4A: No. 5 Jacksonville (5-2) welcomes No. 10 Oneonta (4-2).

Class 3A: Fultondale was among the other teams getting votes in the state poll. The Wildcats (5-1) visit the Midfield Patriots (4-1).

Class 2A: Highland Home (5-1) is at home to No. 2 Luverne (6-0).

Class 1A: No. 9 Isabella (6-0) ventures to No. 4 Maplesville (5-1).

AISA: No. 6 Macon-East entertains No. 10 Monroe Academy.

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