Remember that quote from a year ago? It was the money quote from Nick Saban's post game press conference after the 45-0 shellacking of Tennessee-Chattanooga. I imagine he will have a new line tonight, but nevertheless the underlying point remains the same even with a different opponent.
Seriously, why is this game being played? For Alabama, it's simple: we tried to schedule the absolute easiest opponent imaginable and we felt that it couldn't get any easier than a first-year Division 1-AA program. In other words, we're playing Georgia State mainly because we were not allowed to play the Hillcrest High junior varsity team. And for Georgia State, it's also simple: yes the Panthers will likely get annihilated but even so they need both the paycheck and the publicity, and they would be fools to even consider turning down this game.
And keep in mind I'm not trying to run down Georgia State here either. Give them credit for setting forward an ambitious plan for the growth and development of their football program, and for as much flak as 'Bama fans generally give Bill Curry, his hire is in many ways a very good one for that program. Furthermore, after earning six wins and taking Jacksonville State to overtime, this team has done much better than most expected.
Nevertheless, none of that changes the reality of tonight, which is that Alabama is light years ahead of Georgia State and should be able to beat this team handily with the scout team. It's going to be a blowout, you will need to spend the entire second half flipping through the official roster just to figure out who is on the field, and the final score will be roughly whatever our coaching staff wants it to be. That's not an attempt to belittle Georgia State, mind you, it's merely a realistic expectation for how this game will probably play out.
In terms of storylines, there are almost none to mention. There are no intriguing match-ups, no Alabama player that has any legitimate injury is expected to play tonight, and few if any regulars will be around for the second half. The only thing worth keeping a close eye on, really, is who plays the right guard position, and whether we stick with Anthony Steen after a shaky performance last week or whether we move Alfred McCullough inside and let him play alongside D.J. Fluker at right tackle.
For an Alabama follower, it's really a bit like watching the A-Day game, you watch the game knowing that regardless of how it all plays out the end result will be a 'Bama win, and in the meantime you just sit around biting your fingernails and praying that none one gets injured.
Hope for the best.