It's all about Alabama.
That's the message top-ranked Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban typically imparts before games almost everyone outside the football offices will have trouble taking seriously, and this one is no different. Saban's priority remains on improving with winless Georgia State visiting on Saturday.
"We respect our opponent this week, but the focus has to be on everybody getting better," he said.
Coming off a win over No. 24 Mississippi, Alabama (4-0) and Saban know that shoring up weak spots and making sure individual players progress will come in handy sooner or later, whether it's needed against the Panthers (0-4) or not.
Georgia State is in its inaugural season in the Football Bowl Subdivision and has already lost to FCS teams Samford and Jacksonville State from the state of Alabama.
Now, they're eight-touchdown underdogs against the two-time defending national champions.
"They are impressive in everything they do," said Trent Miles, Georgia State's first-year head coach. "They're so big, physical, fast and well-coached. But we're excited to go play and compete against the best."
The Panthers have been outscored by an average of nearly 20 points so far, including a 41-7 loss to West Virginia.
Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley said Tide players shouldn't let that affect their performance.
The goal, he said: "Try to play to our standard, not play to each opponent's level, basically like not play to Georgia State's level. Then when we play our next SEC opponent to play better and maintain our standard of football or play Alabama football."
It's not as if the Tide doesn't have some areas to work on. The offensive line has been maligned in the early season and has allowed seven sacks and had an uncharacteristic number of runs stuffed in the backfield.
Alabama would probably like to get receiver Amari Cooper more involved, too. Cooper, who starred as a freshman, has only nine catches for 100 yards and no touchdowns while Christion Jones has emerged as AJ McCarron's primary go-to receiver.
The defense, however, has given up only six points in the past two games.
Here are five things to watch as Alabama faces the Sun Belt Conference team:
It's all about Alabama.
- Top Sports
NFL: Man facing charges for urinating on Modell's grave
Maryland authorities said Tuesday they will charge a man with disorderly conduct in a cemetery for allegedly urinating on the grave of former Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell.
PREP SOFTBALL: Local contingent helps Crush secure USSSA World Series title in Orlando
The list of prep softball talent in Cullman County over the last few years has been quite extensive.
LOCAL GOLF ROUNDUP: Harris duo claims parent-child scramble
Ches and John Harris had no trouble closing out a one-stroke lead during Day 2 of the parent-child scramble at Cullman Golf Course on Sunday afternoon.
NFL: Yet another make or break season for QB Bradford
It's become a rite of training camp for Sam Bradford.
SWIMMING: Trio of swimmers grab gold as Catfish earn third-place finish at state meet
Cooper Ogstad, Luke Johnson and Jaedyn Martin each turned in gold-medal performances during Saturday’s state swim meet to help the Cullman Catfish notch an excellent third-place finish at the Alabama Recreation and Parks Swimming Championship.
LOCAL ROUNDUP: Pressley shoots 65, takes 3-shot lead at Chesley Oaks Open
Scoring conditions couldn’t have been any better for the droves of players taking part in this year’s Chesley Oaks Open on Saturday afternoon.
NFL: Milliner ready to prove himself as Jets' No. 1 CB
The pressure was on Dee Milliner in a big way last season.
He was a first-round pick, the first cornerback drafted and projected to start right away for the New York Jets with lofty expectations from the team, fans and the media.
PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: Warren 'beyond excited' to return home, begin coaching at alma mater Hanceville
As it turns out, LeBron James is not the only basketball mind returning home this summer.
SWIMMING: Catfish in 3rd place after Day 1 of state meet
The Cullman Swim Team performed admirably during Day 1 of the state meet on Friday, coming away in third place entering Saturday’s final day of activities.
FOOTBALL: Dallas Cowboys LB McClain convicted in Alabama
A judge on Friday convicted Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct in his Alabama hometown and imposed an 18-day jail term that could interrupt the player's bid to restart his career.
- More Top Sports Headlines
- NFL: Man facing charges for urinating on Modell's grave