No. 20 USC Trojans (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Saturday September 3rd, 2016. 8:00PM (EST)
Where: AT&T Stadium Arlington, T.X.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: USC +10.5/ALA -10.5
Over/Under Total: 54
The defending National Champions will start their runs towards a repeat when the no. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide takes on the no. 20 USC Trojans in an exciting season opener at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. This game has all the ingredients to be huge. Alabama is returning on the heels of a National Championship and again ranked number 1 in the country with some lingering question marks that need to be answered. Meanwhile, the Trojans are trying to get back to the top echelon of college football and this is perhaps their best opportunity towards a monumental statement victory.
Those ingredients are huge for any week in college football much less the opening game. Currently, Alabama is listed as 10.5 point favorites with a total posted at 54. Even though odds makers have a double digit line in favor of the Crimson Tide that has still not stopped early bettors from backing Alabama with nearly 70% of all early action in favor of the Tide. After all this is the defending National Champions coached by Nick Saban who has won 4 National Championships while sporting a 100-18 SU record in his 9 seasons in Tuscaloosa.
Still despite the success, Alabama still has several question marks going into 2016 mainly on the offensive side of the ball. The defense returns just 5 starters but they also have several guys with playing time experience along with the best recruits in the nation set to fill those holes. On offense, the question marks linger at the skill positions. Former quarterback Jake Coker and Heisman Trophy winning running back Derrick Henry are both gone leaving a lot of concerns as to who will step up to lead this team? Quarterback Cooper Bateman and running back Bo Scarbrough will be the guys looking to fill those voids. Scarbrough and Bateman both received very few snaps in 2015 meaning they do not have a ton of game time experience.
Both guys are very talented and have the potential to be very big players for the Crimson Tide especially Scarbrough who has the size to be the next workhorse for offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. The rest of the Alabama offense will have plenty of talent among the offensive line and a big time playmaker on the outside in WR Calvin Ridley. Kiffin has done a good job of getting the best out of Alabamas weapons since he took over the offensive coordinator job in Tuscaloosa and it will be interesting to see if he can do so again this year as a few of these young guys get going.
Surely there may be some extra emotion from Kiffin and USC in this game. As most are aware, Kiffin was the Head Coach for the Trojans from 2010 to the midpoint of 2013 and surely there will be plenty of motivation from both sides to stick it to the other. As far as the Trojans are concerned, they have a lot of returning talent that should be poised to take aim at the Crimson Tide. Unlike Alabama, the Trojans have experience at the attack positions with running back Justin Davis and one of the top talents in the Pac-12 in WR Juju Smith. Smith hauled in 89 receptions for 1,454 yards and 10 touchdowns last year and should be poised for another big year.
That is if quarterback Max Browne can step in and deliver. Browne has attempted just 19 passes throughout his career and a large part of the offense will rely on the arm of the junior this season. It is believed that new offensive coordinator Tee Martin and Head Coach Clay Martin will put a heavy emphasis on the running attack this season. If true, I believe that strategy plays into the strength of the offense. However, they are still need Browne to deliver for this offense to meet its potential. If that does not happen, a very talented arm in in Sam Darnold will not be far behind.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Alabama is 6-10 ATS in the last 16 games as double digit favorites and I think they are in danger of failing to cover again in this opener. I believe USC is better prepared to come out of the gates with some steam and will be able to hang close. Take USC +10.5
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