No. 1 Alabama aims to avoid letdown against Colorado State

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron (10) calls a play at the line of scrimmage against Texas A&M during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) It seems like a perfect time to catch Alabama off-guard.

The top-ranked Crimson Tide sweated out a win in a much-hyped game with No. 10 Texas A&M. Now heavy underdog Colorado State (1-2) comes to town Saturday night, with No. 21 Mississippi awaiting for another Southeastern Conference showdown.

"It's going to be a big week for us to not have a letdown week after a big win, so we've to come out and handle business," Tide quarterback AJ McCarron said.

Rams coach Jim McElwain knows firsthand that scenario doesn't guarantee Alabama (2-0) will try to sleepwalk through the follow-up game even against a 39-1/2-point underdog. In fact, he thinks it's highly unlikely.

"One of the things I know from being there is that there is no letdown," said McElwain, who was the Tide's offensive coordinator from 2008-11. "People could point out that they just had that huge win over a nationally-ranked team. One of the things that they do as well as anybody in the country does is that it doesn't matter who you're playing, it's about playing against yourself.

"It's about how you do every single day, in every single snap to get better."

Besides, few wins on such a big stage provided more defensive teaching points than that one for Alabama. The Aggies' 628 yards was the most ever against a Tide defense.

Saban said games like that 49-42 shootout "take years off your life as a coach." They aren't much kinder to Saban-coached defensive backs.

He said he gave some younger DBs a shot at earning more playing time this week. A unit vying to become the first to lead the nation in scoring defense three years running has a little extra motivation, too.

"I think they have a lot of pride in their performance and certainly are trying to get better and play better," Saban said.

It's the Tide's home opener after a neutral-site romp over Virginia Tech, an open date and a visit to Texas A&M.

Alabama has won 20 in a row over nonconference opponents and outscored such teams by an average of 27 points under Saban, while going 27-3.