Each week, I comb through the media guides issued by both teams and bring you the biggest nuggets of information. Here are the tidbits I’ve collected this week as the Tide gets ready to travel to Columbia to face the Missouri Tigers.
Cracker Box: Alabama’s visit to Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium will be the smallest venue it has played in all season with a capacity of 71,004. Bryant-Denny Stadium holds 101,821 people, while Cowboys Stadium has a capacity of 130,000 with standing room included, and Reynolds Stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas, can hold 80,000.
Historically Speaking: Missouri is one of few programs to lead the series against the Tide. Missouri beat Alabama 35-10 in the 1968 Gator Bowl. The Tigers made it two-in-a-row with a 20-7 win in Legion Field in 1975 before Alabama got its first win over the Tigers, 38-20, in Columbia in 1976. This will also be Nick Saban’s first time coaching against Missouri as a head coach.
Just Say No to Turnovers: Alabama is one of three teams that has yet to throw an interception this season, joining Air Force and Louisiana Tech. Both Air Force and Louisiana Tech threw interceptions in their respective 2011 finales. This is couple with AJ McCarron setting the record for passes thrown without an interception at 206, a streak that remains active. The previous record holder was Brodie Croyle with 190.
Clean Slate: The Tide is tied-for-fourth in the nation for fewest penalties, averaging four per game, and is seventh in the nation in penalty yards with 33.6. Alabama has done well with penalties under Saban and traditionally. The last time the Tide committed 15 or more penalties in a game was in November of 2000, when Alabama committed 15 in Starkville against Mississippi State.
Defining Perfection: Jeremy Shelley is one of five kickers in the country that has not missed a kick. Shelley is 24-24 on extra points and 7-7 on field goals for 45 points. Matt Nelson of Louisiana Tech, Jeff Budzien of Northwestern, Nate Freese of Boston College and Nick Sloan of Navy join Shelley.
Under the Bright Lights: Alabama has had 45 of its last 60 games broadcast on national television. The Tide’s TV appearances have been spread out amongst CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ABC and FOX.
Chasing Down the QB: Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson is looking to earn some recognition with a strong performance against the Tide. However, Alabama has never allowed one player to sack the quarterback more than three times. The last player to get thre was Quanterus Smith of Western Kentucky when the Hilltoppers visited Tuscaloosa earlier this year.
40-time: If Alabama has success against Missouri’s high-paced offense, the Tide’s offense could see a lot of field time. Alabama last had 40 minutes of possession when it had 41:13 against Clemson in 2008.
Replacements: The losses of Dee Hart and DeAndrew White have made some changes to the depth chart. Eddie Lacy is the No. 1 back while T.J. Yeldon is the sole No. 2 and Kenyan Drake is No. 3. Replacing Hart on special teams will be Christion Jones as the punt and kick returner. Cyrus Jones is now the backup punt returner. Backup kick returners are Dee Milliner, Cyrus Jones and Kevin Norwood.
Sizing Up the Tigers: Missouri’s offensive line averages 6-foot-4 and a quarter inches and 302 pounds, compared to Alabama’s average 6-foot-3 and three quarters inches and 296 pound frame on its defensive line. Alabama’s offensive line averages 6-foot-4 and half inches and 314 pounds compared to Missouri’s average defensive lineman at 6-foot-4 and a half inches and 281 pounds.
Upset Special(ists): The last time Missouri hosted the No. 1 ranked team was in 2010 when the Oklahoma Sooners were upset by QB Blaine Gabbert and the Tigers by a final score of 36-27. The Sooners were No. 3 in the AP poll but were No. 1 in the BCS rankings at that point in the season.
Fear Faurot: Since 2006, Missouri has lost only eight times at home to compile a 33-8 home record, 16-8 in conference games. All eight loses were to ranked teams.
The Tigers Taketh Away: Missouri’s defense is on an active 24-game streak in which it has recorded a takeaway. It was October of 2010 the last time Missouri played a game without recording a takeaway (a 31-17 loss at Nebraska).
Punt It Away: Despite missing the entire 2011 season with a shoulder injury, Marcus Murphy is leading the nation in punt return touchdowns with three. He leads the SEC and is fourth in the country in yards per punt return with 20.07. Murphy left last week’s game against Vanderbilt in the first quarter with a dislocated finger and did not return. His status for the Alabama game remains unclear.
Winning and Losing with Field Position: Field position has been a big influence for the Tigers so far this season. In the second half against Georgia, Georgia’s average field position to start drives was the Georgia 48, compared to Missouri’s average start of its own 26. Georgia outscored Missouri 31-10 in the second half. However, Missouri outscored Arizona State 17-7 in the first half thanks to a average starting field position that was 21 yards better than Arizona State’s (Missouri at its own 45, ASU at its own 24).
Let’s Play 5: Missouri leads the nation in overtime games and wins since the rule was put in place in 1995. The Tigers are 10-4 in overtime, followed closely by LSU, who is 8-5 in their 13 OT games in the same time span. North Carolina State is tied with LSU for the same mark. Second in wins is Tennessee, going 10-2 in the 12 OT appearances for the Vols. Alabama has appeared in 12 overtime games and is 4-8.