Kent State Golden Flashes (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) at No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) Saturday September 3rd, 2011, 12:20PM EST, College Football Week 1, Bryant-Denny Stadium Tuscaloosa, A.L.
By Jay Horne, Professional Sports Handicapper of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Kent St. +36/Alabama -36
Over/Under Total: No total as of 8/25/11
The no. 2 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide will host the Kent State Golden Flashes at Bryant-Denny Stadium to kick-off their season opener. The Crimson Tide are coming off 2010 season marked by 10-3 record in what was expected to be a rebuilding season following the Crimson Tide’s National Championship season in 2009. Not bad for a team supposedly in the “rebuilding” phase. However, this season Coach Nick Saban looks to have restored an extreme amount of talent from top to bottom and possibly have the Crimson Tide poised for another National Championship run.
Alabama will enter as enormous 36 point favorites over the Golden Flashes in what is expected to be a cake walk for the Crimson Tide. However, that will not stop the Golden Flashes from attempting an Appalachian State over Michigan type upset. To say they will have their work cut out for them, would be the understatement of the year. This Alabama team is among the best in the nation on both offensive and defensive lines. The offensive line returns 4 of 5 starters and will be ideal for Nick Saban’s power rushing approach.
The rest of the offense has to replace some premiere standouts in the skill positions such as QB Greg McElroy, RB Mark Ingram, and WR Julio Jones. The running back position should be fine considering tailback Trent Richardson has shared carries with Ingram over the last two seasons. In fact Richardson has averaged over 6 yards per carry during his tenure in Tuscaloosa and has tremendous potential as a feature back. Unfortunately, question marks still loom around the quarterback and wide receiver positions. Sophomore AJ McCaron and freshman Phillip Sims continue to battle for the starting role behind center. That battle could go down to the final week of practice. Senior Marquis Maze has the most experience in the receiving core, but it remains to be determined if he will truly be the ‘go to’ threat in the passing game.
Defensively Alabama should be among the best in the nation just as they were a season ago. Last year Alabama ranked 5th overall in total defense giving up 286 yards per game. The Crimson Tide also ranked 3rd in scoring giving up a measly 13.5 points per contest. This season’s group has superstars on every level of the defense. Safety Mark Barron and LB Courtney Upshaw are both All-SEC players that will likely both be on the All-American list at seasons end. The defensive back 7 could quite possibly be the most talented group of the Saban era. If the defensive line lives up to the hype, this could be the best defense in not only the SEC but the entire nation.
On the other side of the field, there is not a lot that is known about the Golden Flashes entering 2011 except for the fact they will be facing “Goliath” on September 3rd. The Kent State offense produced miserable results last year ranking 102nd in total offense responsible for just 314 yards per game. However, the Golden Flashes return 9 starters on offense as they attempt to make a step towards improvement. WR Tyshon Goode is the biggest playmaker for the offense. Goode caught 59 passes for 743 yards and 5 scores last season. The trouble is not with Goode, but simply getting him the football. QB Spencer Keith struggled in 2010 with consistency throwing 8 touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how Keith performs under the pressure of that Alabama defensive front.
One upside the Golden Flashes do have going for them is the outstanding play of their defense. Surprisingly, the Golden Flashes ranked 10th in overall defense last season giving up just 306 yards per game. The defensive front was extremely talented ranking 4th against the run and 8th in sacks. This season 5 starters return from that impressive 2010 group. The Golden Flashes expect to have another solid defensive front which will help as they put their biggest focus on stopping the Alabama rushing attack.
Jay’s Prediction to Cover the Point Spread:
Alabama is a legitimate National Championship contender and the Golden Flashes will soon realize why. Despite the offensive concerns, I can see the Alabama defense controlling this game which will make it much easier on the offense to rack up points on the short side of the field. Take Alabama -36.
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