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After a shaky opener against West Virginia, the Alabama defense regained momentum last week with a 41-0 shutout against Florida Atlantic as the Crimson Tide moved to 2-0 SU on the season. Alabama dropped to the no. 3 spot in the polls as Oregon moved up due to their impressive win against Michigan State. However, the Crimson Tide remains among the early season favorites to make college football’s first 4 team playoff. This week Alabama will face another inferior out of conference opponent when the Southern Miss Golden Eagles come into Tuscaloosa for a 6:00PM (EST) kick at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Alabama is currently listed as enormous 47.5 point favorites over the Golden Eagles this week as they look for continued improvement before an heavily anticipated meeting with Florida next Saturday. This should be nothing more than a tune-up game before SEC competition starts next week. The Golden Eagles are in complete shambles from a football program perspective. It was just a few years ago, 2011 to be exact, that Southern Miss was one of the top mid-major football programs in the country. The Golden Eagles eclipsed a school record 12 wins in 2011 and were the Conference USA Champions in what became coach Larry Fedora’s last season in Hattiesburg.
Since that huge 2011 season and the departure of Larry Fedora, the Golden Eagles have gone just 2-24 SU with only one victory against an FBS opponent. The Golden Eagles were blown out by Mississippi State 49-0 in their opener and barely held off an FCS opponent in Alcorn State last week in a 26-20 victory. Considering the way the Golden Eagles were dominated by Mississippi State, who are the 5th best team in the extremely stacked SEC West, then it is very likely a similar outcome will be in store this week as they take on Alabama and the head of the beast that is the SEC West.
The Golden Eagles simply lack the offensive talent that made the program relevant under former coach Larry Fedora. During those successful years, the Golden Eagles could score with anyone. However, the Golden Eagles offensive statistics thus far in 2014 read as follows: 83rd in passing, 91st in rushing, and 122nd in scoring. Those are not the type of offensive numbers that you want to take on the road against one of the better defenses in the country. While Alabama’s defense received some criticism against their play against West Virginia, they are still one of the best unit’s in the country evident in last week’s shutout against FAU. The defense should have their way again this week against perhaps an even lesser talented Southern Miss offense. Expect Alabama’s defense to wreak havoc on the Golden Eagles’ offensive front and while it is a bold prediction; it would not be surprising to see Alabama pitch their 2nd straight shutout.
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As far as the spread is concerned and laying the enormous 47.5 points, this game really is about how many points Alabama’s offense will score. Last week Alabama led FAU 31-0 at the half before they lifted off the throttle in the 2nd half. It may have also helped that the game was shortened in the 4th quarter due to lightning but Alabama’s offense had clearly already moved to shutdown mode. Wide receiver Amari Cooper lead the way on offense by catching 13 passes for 189 yards and 1 touchdown to reach his 4th consecutive 100 yard receiving game going back to last season. After the game got out of hand in the first quarter, star running back T.J Yeldon barely touched the ball as guys like Kenyan Drake and Tyren Jones got into the mix. I would not be surprised if those guys get the bulk of the work again this week if the Crimson Tide jump out to a quick lead especially with SEC play right around the corner.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I really do not like this point total at 47.5. Even if Alabama’s gets up big and goes conservative, they are still capable of scoring even in shutdown mode especially if the defense gets a turnover or twelve. Consider it a small play, but I lean towards Southern Miss and the +47.5 on the simple belief that Alabama shuts down the offense in the 2nd half.