Vanderbilt football vs. Alabama: Scouting report, score prediction

After a win over Northern Illinois, Vanderbilt football now faces a huge jump up in competition. Alabama is the gold standard of college football programs over the past two decades. The Commodores must face the stacked Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa on Saturday (6:30 p.m. CT, SEC Network).

Here's what to know about the matchup:

Scoring would be an improvement

In Vanderbilt's two most recent matchups with Alabama, in 2011 and 2017, the Commodores didn't score a single point. Vanderbilt last scored on the Crimson Tide in 2007, in Nick Saban's second game.

Alabama (3-0) has allowed just 8.7 points per game this year, so scoring on the Tide will be a tough task, especially with a freshman quarterback in AJ Swann. But this year's offense also offers the most upside Vanderbilt (3-1) has seen in several years.

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Alabama has the reigning Heisman winner

Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young won the Heisman Trophy in 2021 in a year in which few other quarterbacks put up marquee performances. Young is again one of the top signal-callers in the country and armed with big talent at receiver. It's a setup likely to overwhelm Vanderbilt's defense, which has struggled allowing big plays to lesser teams.

Transfers a big storyline

Alabama's left tackle is Vanderbilt transfer Tyler Steen, who started at the same position for the Commodores last season.

"That's my guy," linebacker Anfernee Orji said of Steen on Tuesday. "But he knows what's coming, so I'm not gonna say much."

On the other side, Vanderbilt kicker Joe Bulovas spent four seasons with the Crimson Tide before transferring to the Commodores prior to the 2021 season.

Vanderbilt still shorthanded

Vanderbilt will be without offensive lineman Xavier Castillo on Saturday and will likely be without safety Jaylen Mahoney as well — Lea called Mahoney "doubtful" on Thursday.

Running back Rocko Griffin and guard Ben Cox are questionable. On the plus side, running back Patrick Smith, wide receiver Gamarion Carter and cornerback Trudell Berry will be returning from suspension.

Score prediction

Alabama 49, Vanderbilt 7: Vanderbilt's more explosive offense will be able to score on Alabama this time, but it won't be close to enough to contain one of the top teams in the country.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Vanderbilt football score prediction vs. Alabama: scouting report