4:05 PM ET, October 30, 2005
Miami (2-4) at New Orleans (2-5), Sunday, 4:05 pm EST
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (Ticker) -- The New Orleans Saints play the first of four home games at Louisiana State's Tiger Stadium on Sunday. Nick Saban is quite familiar with the place.
Saban coached LSU to a national championship in 2003. But he left the college ranks to accept the coaching job with the Miami Dolphins last December, signing a five-year contract worth $22.5 million.
Saban and the Dolphins will face the Saints in an interconference game. Both teams are trying to snap three-game losing streaks.
But Saban will have to share the spotlight with Ricky Williams, who is facing his former team for the first time. The Dolphins acquired Williams from New Orleans in 2002 for a pair of first-round picks.
The Saints will play their next four home games here at Baton Rouge and their final one at the Alamodome, where they have already played twice, due to the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.
Ironically, the first one here comes against Saban, who compiled a 48-16 record in five years as coach at LSU. Before Saban took over, the Tigers suffered through seven losing seasons in the 1990s.
In 2003, Saban led the Tigers to a school-record 13-1 record and the national championship with a 21-14 victory over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
Saban, who turns 54 on Monday, is now trying to restore the glory to the Dolphins, who have not made the playoffs since 2001 and finished 4-12 last season.
Williams rushed for 3,225 yards and 25 touchdowns in his first two seasons with the Dolphins. However last year, he abruptly retired before the start of training camp. After it was ruled that he owed the Dolphins more than $8 million in salary for leaving the team, Williams decided to return.
That didn't stop Saban from selecting running back Ronnie Brown with the second overall pick in the 2005 draft. Williams missed the first four games of the season for violating the league's substance abuse policy and has been a non-factor in the two games he has played.
Last week, Williams had just one yard on six carries in a 30-20 loss to Kansas City. Brown broke off a 65-yard touchdown run and gained 30 yards on his other seven carries.
Miami's defense was pushed around by the Chiefs, who accumulated 462 yards, including 185 on the ground.
Gus Frerotte had a rough day for Miami, completing just 11-of-29 passes for 125 yards with an interception.
McAllister was made the feature back in 2002 after Williams was traded and rushed for 4,103 yards and 30 touchdowns in three seasons with New Orleans. This year, he had 352 yards and three touchdowns before suffering a torn ACL in a 52-3 loss at Green Bay on October 9.
Series: The Dolphins lead, 5-3, but the teams have not met since November 1998.
Next week: Miami hosts Atlanta, November 6 New Orleans hosts Chicago at Baton Rouge, November 6
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Injuries will play a big role in the outcome of this game. New Orleans has the playmakers at receiver to exploit a beat-up Miami secondary but its offensive line is dealing with several injuries of its own. There are concerns about its ability to create seams for the backs and keep QB Aaron Brooks up right when he drops back to pass as a result. The Dolphins will try to protect their ailing secondary by keeping it off the field so the Saints can expect to see a steady diet of RBs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Once the run is established, look for QB Gus Frerotte to attack the heart of New Orleans' pass defense off play action, as injuries have hit the Saints' safeties hard.
Two of the most important matchups to keep an eye on are Miami RDE Jason Taylor working against LOT Wayne Gandy and TE Randy McMichael working against the Saints' pass defense. They certainly need help form their supporting casts but strong games from Taylor and McMichael increase the Dolphins' chances of getting the win substantially.
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|Avg Points Allowed||19.1||27.8|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||MIA|
|Rush Yds Allowed||MIA|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Miami leads 1-0|