Mercer Bears (5-5 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (10-0 SU, 4-6 ATS)
College Football Week 14
Date/Time: Saturday November 18th, 2017. 12:00PM (EST)
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium Tuscaloosa, A.L.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MER +47/ALA -47
Over/Under Total: TBA
Last week, the Alabama Crimson Tide survived their biggest scare of the season in Starkville with a 31-24 victory over Mississippi State. The Crimson Tide actually trailed in the 4th quarter for the first time this year but rallied to score two touchdowns in the waning moments. The win moved Alabama to 10-0 and among just 3 teams that remain undefeated in the Power 5 conferences. This week Alabama has one final homestand against Mercer before the much anticipated Iron Bowl at Auburn next week.
Despite the undefeated 10-0 SU record and number 1 ranking in the country, the SEC West is still up for grabs thanks to Auburns upset win over previous no. 1 Georgia last week. Despite the two losses on the year, Auburn still has just one loss in SEC play meaning they could overtake Alabama with a victory in the Iron Bowl. If that happened, it would be the first time since 2013 the Crimson Tide failed to win the SEC West. However even with a loss, it could also be argued the Crimson Tide would still be among the top 4 teams selected to the College Football Playoffs.
Still the Iron Bowl and playoffs talk can be postponed for now. We must shift our focus to this weeks game against the Mercer Bears inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Bears are 5-5 SU on the year and 1-0 ATS in their only game against an FBS opponent. In that game, the Bears covered a 41 point underdog line against Auburn by keeping the game within two touchdowns in a 24-10 outcome. The Southern Conference teams out of the FCS have a history of being a nuisance to high profile football teams. At first glance, it definitely appears that Mercer could hold some value given the enormous 47 points they are being given this Saturday.
Alabama is just 4-6 ATS this season and has failed to cover in 4 of the last 5 games. I warned everyone last week before the Mississippi State game and several times in recent weeks that this Alabama offense is shaky. However, they did come up with plays last week when they needed against a good Bulldogs team. QB Jalen Hurts threw for 242 yards and ran for another 40 yards with a score. WR Calvin Ridley caught 5 passes for 171 yards in a big performance and the ground game remained stout behind Damien Harris and company. Therefore, perhaps the Alabama offense can build off last weeks momentum to become more consistent.
We already know Alabamas defense is among the top units in college football but still believe the offense needs to play better to win it all. This weeks game against Mercer will be a good tune-up to the Iron Bowl next week. The Bears are currently 5th in the Southern Conference at 5-5 but they have a respectable defense that has held teams to less than 30 points in all but one game this season. Obviously, this team cannot contend with the size and physical that Alabama possesses within the trenches. The Alabama running backs should have a field day but remember the Bears will only have to win a few possessions to likely stay within the spread. Additionally, Mercers offense is a run-first group that will likely keep the clock running in their attempts to move the football which will help the underdog narrative against the spread.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I feel like this could be a letdown spot for Alabama with next weeks big game against Auburn looming on the horizon. However even if it is not, this is a large number to cover. I have watched Alabama in these FCS games in the past. They usually jump out to big leads in the 1st half and then call off the dogs in the 2nd. Alabama is just 1-3 in 4 games as more than 30 point favorites and I think that trend continues. Take Mercer +47. - Bet your pick for this game using your credit card at an online bookie where it WILL work for deposits and where you’ll receive a generous 50% signup bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $250! (Example: Deposit $250 and they’ll give you an extra $250 FREE!) Find this great offer at Bovada Sportsbook.