Head coach Nick Saban knows how to get his Alabama troops ready for a fight right from the first punch. Over the last nine seasons under Saban, the Crimson Tide are 9-0 straight up and 8-1 against the spread in season openers, often playing quality competition.
The defending national champions shoot for another good start when they take on the USC Trojans Saturday night on a neutral field at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Point spread: The Crimson Tide opened as nine-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).
College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 43.4-17.6 Crimson Tide
Why the USC Trojans can cover the spread
After going 8-6 last year, USC returns 15 starters for its first full season under head coach Clay Helton. Ten starters return on offense, led by wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (89 catches for 1,454 yards last year) and the entire offensive line.
The Trojans have to replace their starting quarterback of the last few seasons, Cody Kessler, but junior Max Browne is highly regarded. And while only five starters return on defense, they include three of last year’s top four tacklers.
Why the Alabama Crimson Tide can cover the spread
Alabama returns only 11 starters from last season’s 14-1 team, but we all know the Crimson Tide are flush with talent. Offensively, they have to replace their starting quarterback (Jake Coker) and a Heisman winner at running back (Derrick Henry), but they return wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who rang up 1,000 yards as a freshman last year, and three along the offensive line.
Defensively, only five starters are back, but all five, and others, are All-SEC candidates. The Crimson Tide have opened the last four seasons against Michigan, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Wisconsin; they won those four games by an average of 20 points.
Alabama is trying to win another title, while USC is still trying to recover from the fallout of the Pete Carroll era. Alabama also has a great recent track record in spots like this, and playing on a neutral field means the spread is a bit more amenable than if this game were taking place somewhere else, say, at home in Tuscaloosa. Give the points and ride the Tide.
Alabama is 5-2 ATS in its last seven games.
Alabama is 12-0 SU in its last 12 games.
The total has gone over in Alabama’s last five games in Week 1.
All point spread and betting lines data courtesy of Odds Shark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Odds Shark on Twitter and YouTube for injury information, line movement updates and more game analysis and get the free odds tracker app.
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