San Jose State Spartans (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS), Week 1 College Football, 7:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, September 4, 2010, Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: San Jose State +39/Alabama -39
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Alabama comes into the season with the highest expectations possible. The Crimson Tide went 14-0 last season and won the BCS National Championship, winning 37-21 over Texas. To get to that game, they rolled over previously No. 1 Florida 32-13 in the SEC Championship game. Now, the Crimson Tide have most of their key players back, including their starting quarterback, star wide receiver, and Heisman Trophy-winning running back. They come into the season with the No. 1 ranking in the polls and anything short of another National Championship would be a failure. It all starts with their season debut at home against San Jose State.
It all starts with starting quarterback Greg McElroy, who threw for 2,508 yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions last season while completing 60.9 percent of his pass attempts. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior quarterback has only been the starter for one season and he did a very good job at it in that one season. McElroy doesn’t try to do too much. He understands that he has a great offense around him and he just tries to manage the game with simple throws for the most part.
Running back Mark Ingram, who won the Heisman Trophy (See our Heisman Trophy Predictions for 2010) last season as a sophomore, ran for 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns while averaging 6.1 yards per carry and also had 32 receptions for 334 yards and three touchdowns. Ingram is a powerful runner who likes to run up the middle. Ingram is the focal point of the Alabama offense and he’s likely to only get better this season, so he could be in for another Heisman Trophy year.
Alabama’s No. 1 wide receiver is also one of the best in the country. Julio Jones had 43 receptions last season for 596 yards and four touchdowns. It was a bit of a down year for Jones. Part of it had to do with battling an ankle injury and part of it had to with Ingram emerging as a star and Nick Saban basing the offense around the star running back. As a freshman, Jones had 58 receptions for 924 yards and four touchdowns. If he can get back to his freshman ways or maybe even improve upon that, the Crimson Tide will have a spectacular season.
As exciting as Alabama’s offense is, its defense is even better. The Crimson Tide never allowed more than 24 points in a game last season. They averaged to allow less than 12 points per game. They allowed seven or less points in six different games, including games against Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Arkansas. They gave up the least points per game in the country and allowed the second least total yards per game.
San Jose State was 2-10 overall and 1-7 in the WAC. The Spartans open up the season with an extremely tough challenge on the road. In their three games last season against nationally ranked opponents, they lost 56-3 to USC, 24-14 to Utah, and 45-7 to Boise State.
Most of the Spartans’ key offensive players return this season. Quarterback Jordan La Secla threw last season for 1,926 yards, 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while completing 59.9 percent of his pass attempts. Running back Lamon Muldrow ran for 592 yards and three touchdowns. And wide receiver Marquis Avery had 42 receptions for 465 yards and six touchdowns. All three of those players are back this season.
There is nothing San Jose State can do to win this game. It’s only a matter of how much Alabama will win by and whether or not they will cover 39 points. It will come down to how many turnovers Alabama can force and how many times the Spartans can stop the Crimson Tide from scoring a touchdown. There is not much of a chance the Spartans score more than once or twice on Alabama, so turnovers and defensive holds will be key for San Jose State to keep it relatively close.
Alabama is 6-1 ATS in its last seven September games but 0-4 ATS in its last four games against the WAC. The over is 5-0 in Alabama’s last five non-conference games and 6-1 in Alabama’s last seven September games.
Ryno’s Pick: Let me start by saying that there is very little betting value in this game. If forced to make a decision versus the spread, I’d have to lay the 39 because it’s questionable if SJ State can even score against this defense and the Tide offense should be even more improved than last year, so with that being said, I believe this game will end at either 56-0 or 56-6 giving Bama the cover. They’re that good folks.