THE CALL

By Tommy Deas

Offense
Advantage: Alabama
Alabama has a dynamic quarterback in Jalen Hurts and the ability to move the ball on the ground. The passing game needs to continue to become more efficient and involve the wideouts more. The Rams have a good passer in quarterback Nick Stevens, and will fine some success in spots.

Defense
Advantage: Alabama
The UA defense is still a work in progress. It looks strong up front but so far hasn’t produced a consistent pass rush. The secondary appears to be solid, with Ronnie Harrison quietly developing into a playmaker. Oregon State put up a few points on Colorado State, but the Rams held Colorado in check.

Special teams
Advantage: Colorado State
The Rams are perfect on five field goal attempts and punter Ryan Stonehouse has five boots of more than 50 yards. Alabama’s JK Scott punts at an All-America level, but the placekicking game is still unproven. Sooner or later, Trevon Diggs or Henry Ruggs III will make a big play in the return game.

Coaching
Advantage: Alabama
Colorado State began to rise under former Alabama assistant Jim McElwain and seems to be maintaining fairly well under former Georgia assistant Mike Bobo. The Rams have invested in their program, and it shows. Alabama, however, is competing at a completely different level under Nick Saban.

Intangibles
Advantage: Alabama
It’s possible that Alabama will be looking ahead to the start of conference play next week, but not likely, and playing at home in front of 100,000-plus is still a major advantage. The Crimson Tide has won 66 straight against unranked opponents, so lack of focus isn’t an issue.

Prediction:
Alabama 31, Colorado State 7
The Crimson Tide is still searching for its identity. Colorado State has more playmakers than Fresno State did last week, but not enough to make this close. Expect Alabama to get physical and produce a few more big plays in the running game and create a couple of turnovers on defense.

STAFF PICKS

Joey Chandler
Alabama 42, Colorado State 17
Jalen Hurts has another big performance to lead Alabama to victory over a Colorado State team that makes the Crimson Tide work for every point. Rams quarterback Nick Stevens will make a few impressive plays, but it won’t be near enough to upset the top-ranked team in the nation.

Drew Hill
Alabama 28, Colorado State 10
Colorado State is a much better team than Fresno State. In the Rams’ two games against PAC-12 opponents Oregon State and Colorado the offense scored 58 and 3 points, respectively. Which Colorado State team is more likely to show up on Saturday? Well, the one that didn’t score a touchdown against Buffaloes, but Saturday’s game shouldn’t be overwhelmingly lopsided.

Cecil Hurt
Alabama 31, Colorado State 9
Jim McElwain brought the Rams to Tuscaloosa in 2013 and CSU hung around until the fourth quarter. Probably will be similar this year altogether and I am not sure Alabama is as good as it was in ’13.

Ben Jones
Alabama 45, Colorado State 14
The Rams have a competent quarterback and a couple of worthy receivers, so they should find their way into the end zone once or twice. I’d expect Alabama to build on the rhythm it found last week on offense and try to hit on a couple big plays before conference play starts.

Michael Southern
Alabama 34, Colorado State 6
While fans have fretted over the lack of passing from Jalen Hurts, the sophomore quarterback reminded everyone last week that he is the leader of the offense. Don’t expect anything different against Colorado State.

Edwin Stanton
Alabama 35, Colorado State 14
The Rams will give the Crimson Tide a better test than Fresno State. Nick Stevens is a good passing quarterback and has a pair of capable receivers who could give Alabama some trouble. A good test for UA’s defensive backs.

Aaron Suttles
Alabama 38, Colorado State 9
Lots of eyes will be trained on the offensive line as the unit continues to make progress. It’s also another opportunity to see the development of the linebackers filling in for the injured linebackers.

Terrin Waack
Alabama 38, Colorado State 9
Jalen Hurts will have another great performance, but it will be overshadowed by Tua Tagovailoa. The true freshman quarterback will be ready this time when thrown in and show real potential. After, fans will chatter about a quarterback competition. Except, let’s be real: There won’t be one.

Molly Walsh
Alabama 38, Colorado State 17
Alabama is packed with explosive players like Anthony Averett, Mack Wilson and Keith Holcombe who have waited to get a chance to showcase their skills. CSU is a solid all-around team and yet seemingly unpredictable. Jalen’s ability to score one way or another will prevail.

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