West Virginia Mountaineers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date and Time: Saturday, August 30th, 2014. 3:30PM EST
Where: Georgia Dome Atlanta, G.A.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: WVU +26/Bama -26
Over/Under Total: 55.5
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The 2nd ranked Alabama Crimson Tide will meet the West Virginia Mountaineers inside the Georgia Dome this Saturday for the 2nd leg of the 2014 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff. The Chick-Fil-A Kickoff starts with an interesting battle between Boise State and Ole Miss on Thursday night and then concludes on Saturday when Alabama takes center stage as one of the heavily favored National Championship contenders for 2014. Alabama has participated in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff more than any other team since this event started in 2008 with 3 victories and the Crimson Tide have also won 12 straight season openers. Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide will enter Saturday night’s affair as a huge 26 point favorite over the Mountaineers as they look to keep that streak alive.
Remarkably this marks the 5th straight year Alabama has started the season as a double digit favorite and it also marks the 55th straight game that Alabama has been favored under Saban. Despite being favored in all of their games and sporting an impressive 11-2 record, the Crimson Tide only managed to put together a 7-6 mark against the spread. This year Alabama enters 2014 ranked 2nd and with the same National Championship type expectations that have been the norm under Nick Saban. However, this year’s team has some holes to fill along the offensive line, defensive secondary, and at the quarterback position.
As of Monday, coach Nick Saban had still not made a decision surrounding who would start at quarterback against West Virginia. We do know that the battle is between senior Blake Sims and junior Jacob Coker. Saban stated that both quarterbacks were doing well and that Sims had a bit more experience in the system but still said that no decision has been made. With only a few days left until the season opener, it is unclear if Saban will name a clear starter of possibly try to work both quarterbacks onto the field just like he did with AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims in the 2011 season opener against Kent State.
The good news for Alabama fans is that both quarterbacks are reportedly playing well. Even if that were not the case, Saban’s offense is designed to maintain ball control and run the football. Saban likes for his quarterbacks to be strong game managers and prevent turnovers. Therefore it is not like either quarterback will be asked to throw it down the field for 300-400 yards. Instead, Alabama will use their power in the trenches along with a strong running attack to set the tone of offense. Junior running back T.J Yeldon returns this season along with Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry as one of the most talented backfields in the country. Yeldon racked up 1,235 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2013 and is among the Heisman Trophy hopefuls entering this season. Rest assured Yeldon and rest of the talented Alabama running backs will get plenty of touches this season in front of one of the best offensive lines in the country.
As for Alabama’s opponent this Saturday in West Virginia, the Mountaineers have been a program on the decline. It was just 3 years ago that Dana Holgorsen took over in Morgantown and led the Mountaineers to a 10-3 season that was capped off by a nationwide spectacular 70-33 blowout over Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Since Holgorsen’s promising debut, West Virginia has declined each of the last two years including a dismal 4-8 campaign last season that was marred by defensive woes. The Mountaineers ranked 108th in total defense last year and relinquished 33.3 points (99th in FBS) per game. The putrid defense led to West Virginia suffering upset losses to the likes of both Iowa State and Kansas. This year Tony Gibson steps into the defensive coordinator role with 7 starters returning on defense in hopes for a much different type of outcome.
If the defense does not get any better, West Virginia could be in for another long and disappointing season which could potentially bring the Holgorsen era to an end. However if they can make some improvement, the offense has the talent to compete. The Mountaineers have an extremely talented stable of running backs led by Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood. The receiving corps should be reliable and the passing game will solely reflect the play of Clint Trickett. Trickett struggled a lot in 2013 completing just 52% passing with 7 scores and 7 picks in limited action. However, the West Virginia coaching staff is expecting much better results from their senior quarterback in 2014.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The talent level in this matchup is like a night and day type of difference between Alabama and West Virginia. However, I think the point spread is about right at -26 between 3 and 4 touchdowns. It’s hard to know how bad the West Virginia defense will play and how prepared Alabama’s offense will be, which makes it difficult to predict this game with any type of certainty. I will lean on the under 55.5 in this game but consider it a smaller play. Good luck! Bet this game for FREE by opening an account, depositing $100 and getting a FREE $100 betting credit at GTBets!