Football preview: Auburn welcomes No. 2 Georgia, Alabama visits Texas A&M, UAB aims for first win at new stadium vs. FAU

Football preview: Auburn welcomes No. 2 Georgia, Alabama visits Texas A&M, UAB aims for first win at new stadium vs. FAU
Auburn quarterback Bo Nix (10) throws the ball during the Tigers' come-from-behind victory over LSU in Baton Rouge. Coach Bryan Harsin hopes to see a faster start with the Georgia Bulldogs coming to town this weekend. (Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics)

Alabama has started the season well. Some might say perfectly.

The Crimson Tide is the No. 1 team in the land, having pushed aside yet another challenger last week against Ole Miss. But Nick Saban isn’t content to start well.

Alabama running back Brian Robinson Jr. (4) in the end zone, where he is a frequent visitor. This week Alabama travels to College Station to take on the Texas A&M Aggies. (CrimsonTidePhotos)

“There’s one thing we probably need to continue to develop is our ability to finish,” he said. “Whether it’s a tackle, whether it’s a block, whether it’s a quarter, whether it’s a game, whether it’s stacking positive performance from play to play, game to game, practice to practice. However you want to put it, I think that would help us be a little bit more consistent.”

Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC) travels to College Station to face Texas A&M at 7 p.m. Saturday on CBS. The Aggies are 3-2, 0-2 in SEC action.

And while Saban wants Alabama to finish games, Auburn coach Bryan Harsin wants to tweak the script for his Tigers, cutting back on the need for the dramatic comebacks that have been required so far this season. The latest rise from the ashes came in Baton Rouge last Saturday as Bo Nix led Auburn to a victory over LSU to break a Tiger Stadium losing streak that stretched to 1999.

“We’re not challenging ourselves like that and saying, ‘Hey, let’s get behind to try to really dig ourselves out,’” Harsin said. “That’s not the mentality you want to go in with. Like every team in America, we want to start fast. I think that’s something that we have got to do a better job of.

“It just comes down to execution by everybody,” the coach continued. “We have to have really good plans to start fast. We’ve got to execute. We’ve got to have that mentality coming out of that locker room.”

The Tigers certainly don’t want to start slowly this week, not with No. 2 Georgia (5-0, 3-0) coming in for a 2:30 p.m. contest on CBS. No. 18 Auburn is 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the SEC.

Bill Clark’s Blazers are still smarting after Liberty spoiled the grand opening of Protective Stadium by downing the home team 36-12. But UAB can’t dwell on that, not with Conference USA foe Florida Atlantic visiting at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Each team is 3-2 overall and 1-0 in C-USA. The game features the programs that won the past four league championships, with FAU winning in 2017 and 2019, and UAB in 2018 and 2020.

Since 2017, UAB has won a league-best 37 games and FAU follows with 35.

“Defensively they are the same as far as just really aggressive, well-coached defense and then offensively they’ve probably found who they are last week,” Clark said of the squad that outscored FIU 58-21. “They went really high-tempo; they have speed everywhere. They’re in a hotbed of recruiting. They’ve got speed all over the place and are gigantic up front.

“We knew when they added those guys to our side of the schedule, they were giving us one of the best teams on the other side of the conference and they looked like it on Saturday.”

In other action:

Birmingham-Southern at Hendrix College: The Panthers are 4-0 and 1-0 after blanking Sewanee 49-0 in their Southern Athletic Association opener last week. Hendrix is 1-3 and 0-1. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. Saturday in Conway, Arkansas.

Huntingdon at Southern Virginia: After opening 0-2, the Hawks have evened their overall record while going 2-0 in the USA South Athletic Conference. They face Southern Virginia (1-4, 0-3) at noon Central on Saturday in Buena Vista.

Arkansas Pine Bluff at Alabama State: It’s homecoming for the Hornets, who are stinging after falling 28-0 last week to Florida A&M. Pine Bluff comes to town 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). ASU is 2-2, 1-1. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. Saturday.

The West Alabama Tigers are 5-0 heading into this weekend’s game with Shorter. (West Alabama Athletics)

Jackson State at Alabama A&M: The Bulldogs are 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the SWAC, coming off a 37-28 loss to Grambling State. The Tigers are 3-1, 1-0 in the SWAC. Play is at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Morehouse vs. Tuskegee: The 85th Annual Morehouse-Tuskegee Classic will be played at Birmingham’s Legion Field at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Golden Tigers are 2-3, 1-0 in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Maroon Tigers are 0-5 overall and 0-1 in the SIAC.

Benedict at Miles: The Golden Bears lost 31-3 to Albany State last week to fall to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the SIAC. The Tigers are 2-3, with all of their losses coming in conference play. Kickoff for Miles’ homecoming contest is 4 p.m. Saturday.

North Alabama at North Carolina A&T: UNA (0-5 overall and 0-1 in the Big South Conference) looks to get into the win column at noon Central on Saturday in Greensboro. The Aggies are 2-2, 1-0.

West Alabama at Shorter: The Tigers show the way in the Gulf South Conference as they are 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the league. Kickoff is noon Central on Saturday in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Shorter is 2-3, 0-2.

Georgia Southern at Troy: The Trojans are 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the Sun Belt Conference. Georgia Southern is 2-3. The game will be at 6 p.m. Saturday.

South Alabama at Texas State: The Jaguars are 3-1, 0-1 in the Sun Belt Conference. The Bobcats (1-3) are playing their conference opener. Kickoff is 6 p.m. in San Marcos.

Stephen F. Austin at Jacksonville State: This conference opener for both teams pits the 3-2 Lumberjacks against the 2-3 Gamecocks in a 3 p.m. Saturday homecoming game. Stephen F. Austin debuted at No. 23 in the latest FCS Stats Perform Top 25. JSU is No. 24, down from No. 17 after losing 31-6 to Kennesaw State last week.

Idle this week: Samford.

HIGH SCHOOLS

Class 7A: Central Phenix City is 7-0 and ranked No. 3 in the latest Alabama Sports Writers Association poll. Prattville (5-2) visits the Red Devils on Friday and the Lions may be the last chance for Central to be tagged with a loss in Region 2. Prattville sits just outside the Top 10.

Class 6A: No. 2 Briarwood (7-0) travels to No. 6 Mountain Brook (5-1) in a Thursday night game that will likely settle the Region 5 title.

Class 5A: OK, try to keep up. No. 2 Pleasant Grove (5-1) is the home team Friday when it faces No. 8 Parker (6-0) in a battle of teams that are 4-0 in Region 5. But the “visiting” Thundering Herd will have a much shorter trip to the playing site as the game will be at Birmingham’s Legion Field, which is in the same Smithfield Community as Parker. The juxtaposition comes as work continues on the Spartans’ home field. Earlier this season, Pleasant Grove played its homecoming game at McAdory, but didn’t play McAdory, simply borrowing the Yellow Jackets’ field.

Class 4A: Central Florence (6-1) welcomes Priceville (5-1) on Friday with the winner assured of a high seed in Region 8 playoffs.

Class 3A: Wicksburg (6-1) heads to Opp (6-1) on Friday. Each team is undefeated in Region 2.

Class 2A: St. Luke’s Episcopal (4-2) visits Leroy (5-1) on Friday in Region 1.

Class 1A: No. 5 Notasulga (6-0) travels to No. 3 Maplesville (6-0) in a game that will decide the Region 4 crown.

AISA: No. 2 Autauga Academy hosts No. 1 Escambia Academy in a battle of 6-0 teams.

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