Western Carolina Catamounts vs. Alabama Crimson Tide Point Spread – Pick Against the Spread

Western Carolina Catamounts (1-9 SU, 5-5 ATS) vs. No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide (9-1 SU, 5-5 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date/Time: Saturday November 17th, 2012. 12:20PM Eastern
Where: Bryant Denny Stadium Tuscaloosa, A.L.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Over/Under Total: OFF

The Alabama Crimson Tide were stunned last week by Johnny ‘Football’ and the Texas A&M Aggies 29-24 in Tuscaloosa. The loss not only knocked Alabama from the nation’s number 1 ranking but also crippled their chances to repeat as BCS National Champions. Perhaps more shocking, it was the 2nd straight week that Nick Saban’s group was outplayed on the gridiron if you count the 56 minutes or more they were beat by LSU. Still, Alabama can still fight their way back into the National Championship picture if they get some big help similar to the way they got a 2nd chance against LSU last year. The only problem is Alabama needs help from several teams as there are still 3 unbeaten National Title contenders. This week the Crimson Tide returns to the gridiron as huge favorites over 1-9 SU Western Carolina out of the FCS.

Honestly there is not a ton of information we know about the Catamounts. Western Carolina has lost 9 straight games since their opening win over Mars Hill 42-14. The last 6 straight losses have not been close resulting in double digit losses. On paper, the Catamounts have obviously had defensive issues relinquishing more than 40 points per game. In fact, Western Carolina has allowed at least 38 points in 9 of their 11 contests this season. Offensively, the Catamounts support a running favored offense with QB Troy Mitchell and running back Darius Ramsey. Together both players have combined for more than 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns on the year. The problem is statistically the Catamounts do not rack up a ton of yards on the ground nor in the passing game. Mitchell is averaging just 83 yards per game through the air with 4 touchdowns and 4 picks. QB Eddie Sullivan has also shared time behind center but Mitchell is the bigger threat with his running ability.

Obviously Western Carolina will be extremely under manned in this game going against one of the most physical teams in the country in Alabama. This maybe just the type of game that Alabama’s defense needs to get their swagger back. If you remember, Alabama led the nation in nearly all major categories on the defensive side of the football just a few weeks ago. Then LSU was able to muster out 435 yards of total offense in Baton Rouge to keep the Crimson Tide defense on their heels. Last week Johnny Manziel and the Aggies offense posted 400 plus yards in that 29-24 loss in Tuscaloosa. Therefore, this will be a good week for Alabama’s defense to get back to basics against a completely inferior opponent in Western Carolina.

On offense Alabama QB A.J McCarron hopes to rebound this week after giving up a few costly turnovers against the Aggies. McCarron had put his name in the midst of the Heisman Trophy talk after leading the comeback against LSU in Baton Rouge. Heading into last week’s game against Texas A&M, McCarron had tossed 19 touchdowns without a single interception. That streak came to a crashing end last week with the game on the line despite McCarron hitting 21 of 34 passing for 309 yards. Alabama’s passing offense should take some chances in the passing game this week against the weaker Western Carolina defense and that means McCarron will have a chance to pad the stat sheet.

Still, Alabama’s bread and butter is in the running game. The battle in the trenches is where the biggest difference lies between Alabama and inferior opponents like Western Carolina. Alabama should be able to dominate up front to give running room to tailbacks Eddie Lacy and T.J Yeldon. Both backs have rushed for just over 750 yards this season while combining for 17 touchdowns. Lacy leads the team with 771 rushing yards on the year but Yeldon is sporting a stout 6.7 yards per carry average on the season as well. Realistically both backs have a legitimate shot to eclipse the 1,000 yard barrier on the season which would be extremely impressive considering the tough defenses that are housed in the SEC.

Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I wrote this article on Tuesday and as of Friday there’s still no point spread. If one comes up, I’ll return with a pick. If a line does ever come out, my gut tells me that Western Carolina will have value because there is absolutely no reason for the Tide to embarrass this much weaker opponent.

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