The top-ranked Alabama football team is coming off a hard-fought road victory at Mississippi State heading into Saturday’s home game against Mercer. Here are four key questions the Crimson Tide must answer.

1. Will Alabama be looking ahead?

With Auburn looming next weekend and a berth in the SEC Championship Game – and possibly UA’s national championship aspirations – on the line in that one, it would be easy for the Crimson Tide to look past the Mercer Bears. We’ll see if Alabama’s attention is on the task at hand.

2. Can Mercer hang with the Crimson Tide?

Auburn led just 7-3 at halftime on the way to a 24-10 victory over the Bears in mid-September. Mercer is just 5-5, but has shown it can make things interesting against an SEC opponent. Mercer upset Western Carolina, ranked Football Championship Subdivision team, last week.

3. How much will Tua Tagovailoa play?

The earlier Alabama can put Mercer away, the more playing time the backups will get. That includes UA’s backup quarterback, Tagovailoa, who has shown well when given the chance. The more experience Alabama’s backups get in games like this, the better it is for the program.

4. Can Alabama avoid major injuries?

Alabama has suffered key losses at linebacker and had several players at other positions get banged up and miss time. With the stretch run of the season at hand, UA will need everyone possible healthy and ready to go. Avoiding further losses in this game is crucial.