No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date and Time: Saturday August 31st, 2013. 5:30PM Eastern.
Where: Georgia Dome Atlanta, G.A
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Ala -18.5/VT +18.5
Over/Under Total: 45.5
Over the past 5 years, the good ole folks at Chick-Fil-A have sponsored
an annual college football game in Atlanta featuring premier teams from
both the ACC and SEC rivaled conferences. The game or event has now developed
into what is called the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic. This year the Chick-Fil-A
Kickoff Classic will host another premier and intriguing match-up over college
football’s opening weekend. Taking center stage among the opening week festivities
will be the reigning National Champions and preseason no. 1 Alabama
Crimson Tide as they are slated to meet the Virginia Tech
Hokies inside the Georgia Dome.
For Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide, they are not only the reigning back to back National Champions but they are the closest epitome to a modern day dynasty that college football has to offer. This year Alabama returns a ton of talent on both sides of the ball and are favorites to make another historic run to become the first team in college football history to win 3 straight National Championships. QB A.J McCarron has been under center during the past two national title runs and is a guy that I personally believe is undervalued significantly. McCarron is not going to post huge video game type numbers because Nick Saban does not run a spread or quick striking type offense. The Crimson Tide offense relies heavily on the big offensive lineman up front and a strong rushing attack to wear defenses down throughout 4 quarters of play in a slow grinding style offense.
In fact running back T.J Yeldon rushed for over 1,100 yards in a shared role last season with former tailback Eddie Lacy. Now that Yeldon will get the bulk of the work, Alabama should have yet another elite running game that Saban relies on heavily yet again. Still McCarron is the guy that can really make Alabama’s offense excel and be virtually unstoppable. When McCarron’s number has been called, he has delivered. In 2012, McCarron completed 67% passing for 2,933 yards with 30 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions. I think any coach in college football would take just giving up 3 picks throughout the course of an entire season and that is just how flawless McCarron has been. One thing Alabama does very well is that they do not make many mistakes and give opponents any extra chances. A large part of that success has been McCarron under center and managing football games with a mistake free attitude. If McCarron keeps the turnovers at a minimum again, Alabama’s rushing attack and defense will be hard to overcome for any opponent.
Obviously Alabama’s defense has been one of or possibly the best defense in the country over the last several years. The defense replaces All-Americans with All-American talent and never shows any weaknesses. This year 7 starters return from their 2012 group that gave up just 250 yards per game.(1st in NCAA). While there are some new faces on the defensive front, they are extremely talented nevertheless meaning everyone should expect another dominating Nick Saban defense when the team steps onto the field in Atlanta against the Hokies.
As for Frank Beamer’s Virginia Tech Hokies, the program took a rather large step back last year finishing 2012 with a measly 7-6 record. The folks from Blacksburg have been accustomed to 10-11 win seasons under Beamer and typically in the ACC Championship race. However, 2012 was far from the usual. Even the special teams which have been fantastic under Beamer struggled last year. Perhaps the most alarming numbers surrounding the Hokies offense that ranked just 81st in the NCAA averaging just 376 total yards per game. The offense failed to have an effective running back which has been key to their recent offensive success. In fact, leading running back J.C Coleman captured just 492 yards as the Hokies leading tailback in his freshman season. While Coleman should have some more help with a more experienced offensive line, he is listed as questionable for the season opener with a high ankle sprain. Definitely not good news for an offense that has struggled with consistency.
The good news for the Hokies is they will have senior quarterback Logan Thomas back under center for one last year. Thomas is a big dual threat quarterback that has playmaking potential with both his arm and legs. Thomas has dealt with turnover issues throwing the ball (16 picks in 2012) but he is a viable threat with the ball in his hands nevertheless. Virginia Tech will enter the Georgia Dome as large 18.5 point underdogs but I would not be surprised to see the Hokies challenge Alabama if they can get some help from Thomas and the offense. Bud Foster’s defense returns 9 starters from a group that ranked 18th overall in 2012. Not only is the defense typically a strong point for the Hokies but this should be one of the best groups Virginia Tech has put on the field in recent memory. Therefore this game should stay relatively low in terms of scoring meaning the offense that can come up with the big plays could really make an impact towards the overall outcome.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Two of the nation’s best defense on the same field in the opening game of the season. Yeh I will take the under 45.5 to the cashier’s window. Good luck!
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