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No. 2 Alabama visits Missouri to begin SEC-only campaign

No. 2 Alabama at Missouri, Saturday at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN).

Line: Alabama by 27 1/2.

Series record: Alabama leads 4-2.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

The second-ranked Crimson Tide will go for their fifth straight win over Missouri when the teams open their SEC-only schedule at Faurot Field. The Tigers will be playing their first game under Eli Drinkwitz, who was hired to replace the fired Barry Odom after a 12-win campaign in his only season leading Appalachian State.

KEY MATCHUP

Missouri’s run game against Alabama LB Dylan Moses: The Tigers return their top three RBs from last season, including Larry Rountree III, who had 829 yards rushing and nine TDs. But they face a big challenge in a Crimson Tide defense led by Moses, a fifth-year senior who will be responsible for getting their young pass rushers and secondary in position.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Alabama: WR Jaylen Waddle shined on special teams, leading the nation in punt return average, but he often was overshadowed by Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III last season. Now, he could join leading receiver DeVonte Smith in a feature role in coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s offense.

Missouri: QB Shawn Robinson, a transfer from TCU, appears to lead redshirt freshman Connor Bazelak in the race to replace the graduated Kelly Bryant. His ability to command Drinkwitz’s offense after an abbreviated spring practice schedule and abnormal summer camp will be crucial to whether the Tigers have any success Saturday and beyond.

FACTS & FIGURES

Alabama has won 26 straight games against SEC East opponents dating to a loss to South Carolina in 2010. The streak includes a 5-0 record in SEC title games. … The Crimson Tide have beaten 91 straight unranked teams dating to a win over Colorado in the Independence Bowl in December 2007. … Nick Saban is 13-0 in season openers at Alabama. … Crimson Tide RB Najee Harris (2,377) needs 269 yards rushing to pass Dennis Riddle and move into the top 10 in school history. … Smith (23) needs three TD catches to tie Jeudy for second in school history. Amari Cooper had 31. … Missouri has won its past 14 home openers. … Rountree (2,748) needs 450 yards rushing to set the school rushing record by a non-QB. … Missouri LB Nick Bolton had 107 tackles to lead the SEC last season. … The last time Missouri’s coach made his debut against a ranked opponent was 1978, when Warren Powers led the Tigers to a 3-0 win over then-No. 5 Notre Dame.

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