By Tommy Deas
Alabama averages nearly 40 points and a shade over 480 yards per game. Damien Harris leads a talented stable of running backs and gains 8.4 yards per carry on average. Kaelan Riley leads Mercer with more than 2,100 combined running and passing yards.
Mercer leads the Southern Conference in scoring defense, allowing a little over 20 points per game. Alabama has had to shuffle some things at linebacker, with Keith Holcombe stepping up. The Crimson Tide rates second in the SEC in scoring, rushing and total defense
Alabama has been productive in the punting game behind JK Scott, and Andy Pappanastos has been a reliable kicker. The return game still has some issues, particularly in fielding punts. Mercer’s Chandler Curtis is a threat on punt and kickoff returns.
Mercer is coming along well under Bobby Lamb since reviving its program four seasons ago after a 72-year hiatus. The Crimson Tide has college football’s top coach in Nick Saban, who surrounds himself with talented assistants like running backs coach Burton Burns.
For Alabama, this is the last home game for a group of seniors (and probably some NFL-bound juniors). The Crimson Tide not only has a huge talent edge, but also the incentive to want to keep rolling toward the chance to add SEC and national titles to the trophy case.
Alabama 49, Mercer 6
The question isn’t which team is going to win, but by how much Alabama will win. Mercer hung in well against Auburn earlier this season, but that isn’t indicative of the talent gap here. Alabama will want to build a lead and get its starters off the field if it can.
Alabama 62, Mercer 0
Alabama’s offense explodes against Mercer in its final outing at Bryant-Denny Stadium this season. The defense records its second shutout of the year. A lot of players get an opportunity to shine in this one.
Alabama 52, Mercer 7
It will be interesting to see how Alabama’s defense bounces back after a poor performance against Mississippi State. Linebackers Dylan Moses and Keith Holcombe should play for a most of the game, and will need to perform well to have some confidence when travelling to Auburn next week.
Alabama 41, Mercer 6
This is a toss-up. Not the game, no disrespect to a Mercer program that is trying to get off the ground by playing some heavyweights. But in deference to Cupcake Saturday, I have to pick a flavor. Chocolate peanut butter? Key lime? It’s tough.
Alabama 48, Mercer 7
There are lots of reasons for Alabama to get its young players into this game. But as we’ve seen this season, even the young players — particularly on offense — are pretty good when given a chance to make plays.
Alabama 41, Mercer 6
With most of the nation already fixated on next week’s anticipated Iron Bowl, Alabama still has one more game to take care of before it can turn its attention to Auburn. The Tide needs to start fast and put this away early.
Alabama 49, Mercer 0
The only real drama here is if Alabama make it to the end of the game without losing anyone to significant injury. The Crimson Tide will need to be as healthy as possible for next week’s Iron Bowl.
Alabama 42, Mercer 6
Expect lots of backups as Alabama wants to energy the Iron Bowl as healthy as possible. Players won’t be in bubble wrap, but don’t expect some banged up guys to play this week.
Alabama 38, Mercer 10
After how the Alabama-Mississippi State game played out, the Crimson Tide isn’t overlooking any opponent. Not that it overlooked the Bulldogs, but there was a new sense of resiliency during that final period. Expect that all four quarters against Mercer because Alabama probably wants to assert its dominance once again.
Alabama 28, Mercer 10
Alabama’s Josh Jacobs will likely prove to be an asset once again for Alabama scoring-wise, however defensively players like Keith Holcombe need to show more endurance for all four quarters.