The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide are way too chalky to be the right NCAAF pick for Saturday’s matchup with the No. 14 Miami Hurricanes.
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. No. 14 Miami Hurricanes
Saturday 4th September 2021 (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
There’s only one alpha dog in college football: the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide. They’re the defending national champions, and they’ve won six times since Nick Saban took over the program in 2007. That’s insane when you consider there are 130 teams in the FBS. Naturally, Alabama are favored to make it seven titles this year, checking in at +300 on the NCAAF odds board at Unibet. Everyone else is playing catch-up.
That includes the No. 14 Miami Hurricanes (+8000). However, when it comes to Saturday’s season-opener in Atlanta, there’s no question the Hurricanes belong in your college football picks. They’re getting 20 points at BetMGM, which is a lot of points for a Top 25 team that’s poised to challenge for the ACC title. And this is a neutral-site game, too, even if there will be plenty of ‘Bama fans in attendance.
As good as the Crimson Tide were last year, and as good as Saban is at recruiting talent, they’ve got a lot of holes to fill on offense. Their top skill players (QB Mac Jones, RB Najee Harris, WR DeVonta Smith, WR Jaylen Waddle) have all moved on to the NFL, as have three of their offensive lineman; plus, co-ordinator Steve Sarkisian is now the head coach of the Texas Longhorns. That’s a tough act to follow.
The Tide will manage somehow. QB Bryce Young looks like the next big thing in Tuscaloosa, and he’ll get to work with new co-ordinator Bill O’Brien, who is reportedly adapting well to Saban’s overall game plan. But it’s Alabama’s defense that will have to shoulder the load while Young, O’Brien and the latest crop of blue-chip prospects figure things out on offense. And it won’t be a field day for those new players versus the No. 18 team on the defensive ratings chart at Football Outsiders.
You’re Down With The King
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes are fortunate to have D’Eriq King under center for Saturday’s matchup. King was a breath of fresh air for Miami last year after he transferred over from Houston; unfortunately, King tore up his right knee during the Cheez-It Bowl, and had to watch from the sidelines as the Oklahoma State Cowboys eked out a 37-34 win as 1-point favorites.
At first, it was feared that King wouldn’t be healthy in time for Week 1 after undergoing surgery, but he worked hard at his rehab, and here he is ready to take on one of the best defenses in college. King has ample talent to work with, too, including on the offensive line; factor in Miami’s capable defense, and they should be able to keep Saturday’s game relatively close, even if the Tide manage to win their 20th straight season-opener.
College Football Pick: Miami +20 (–110) at BetMGM