After surviving one of the stiffer challenges it will face all year, Alabama is back in Tuscaloosa for a breather against Colorado State. CSU head coach Jim McElwain is a familiar face, having served as the offensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide from 2008 through 2011, though that's not about to buy him any sympathy come kickoff.
McElwain's rebuilding project in Fort Collins is still very much a work in progress, and his team can't realistically hope to hang with Alabama for long. The Crimson Tide won't mind that too much after opening the season with games against Virginia Tech and Texas A&M. The Tide begin a manageable half-dozen-game stretch here that should have them undefeated when LSU comes calling in early November.
Rankings and records: Alabama comes in at 2-0 overall, and the near-unanimous No. 1 team in both the AP and Coaches' polls. Colorado State is 1-2, it's lone win coming over Cal Poly. These teams have never met before.
Vegas: Alabama opened as a 35-point favorite, while the over/under opened at 51.
Weather: A high of 79 is expected, and there is an 80-percent chance of rain.
Three names to know
A.J. McCarron -- Including last season, McCarron has thrown four interceptions in his last 366 pass attempts, which is one giveaway for every 92 passes or so. Texas A&M's defense has some obvious issues, but McCarron also made clear that the Tide can be every bit as terrifying offensively as they are expected to be defensively.
T.J. Yeldon -- Compared to his freshman season, at least, Yeldon's 5.3 average per carry is modest, but he hasn't gotten much of a break up to this point. That changes Saturday night, and for however long he's in the game, this figures to be his show.
Two things at stake
Even with a "let down," or however you might want to characterize a lethargic start following Alabama's crucial win at Texas A&M last weekend, this one is not going to be close. It's little more than a tune-up for the rest of the schedule, because Colorado State is that bad. (And Alabama is that good.) Enjoy the Tide's first-stringers while you can.
There probably isn't much CSU can take away from this game other than whatever it was paid to show up in Tuscaloosa, but on the bright side, everything's going to look easier after playing the Crimson Tide. McElwain won four games in his first season, and he'd love to match or exceed that in his second year. Maybe the challenge presented by this contest will ultimately put his team in a position to do that.
How to witness
TV: ESPN2 (7 p.m. ET)
Online streaming: ESPN3