Alabama vs. Miami: NCAAF Week 1 betting odds, preview, and pick
The top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide begin their title defense on Saturday, when they face the No. 14 Miami Hurricanes in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Sat, September 4 2021, 7:30 PM
Defense set to shine for Crimson Tide
The Crimson Tide are a +300 favorite to win a second straight national title, despite losing 10 players to the NFL, including quarterback Mac Jones, running back Najee Harris, Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, and cornerback Patrick Surtain II.
Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian also left to coach Texas and has been replaced by former Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien.
Such significant losses would drastically impact any other team, but this is Alabama. Ready to step into the spotlight are 5-star dual-threat quarterback Bryce Young, who will get his first collegiate start on Saturday, and senior running back Brian Robinson Jr., who averaged 5.3 yards per carry as a backup to Harris in 2020.
I can not wait to see Bryce Young ball out this year.— Zack Poff (@Zack_Poff_MP) September 2, 2021
Was one of the most special dudes I ever seen.
Finished his high school career with 13,250 yards passing and 152 TDs to go with 1,000+ yards rushing and 26 scores.@_bryce_young | @MDFootball | @BamaOnLine247 | @AABonNBC pic.twitter.com/psD5tgKXf3
On defense, the Tide will present the greatest danger to any opponent they meet. Seven starters return, namely cornerback Josh Jobe (55 tackles, 11 passes defensed, two forced fumbles), second-leading tackler Christian Harris, and linebacker Will Anderson Jr., who ranked second on the team in sacks (seven).
The unit also gained Tennessee transfer Henry To'o To'o, who will slot in at middle linebacker.
Last season, Alabama surrendered an SEC-low 19.4 points per game, and ranked third in both rushing and passing defense.
D'Eriq King the key to Miami upset
Much the opposite of Alabama, Miami will return every starter on offense, except for tight end Brevin Jordan, who was selected in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The main piece the Hurricanes got back was Houston transfer quarterback D'Eriq King. The dual-threat tore his ACL in Miami's 37-34 bowl game loss to Oklahoma State last season, but he should be back to full strength in the season opener.
King is a major threat on the ground and will be joined in the rushing attack by the trio of Cam'Ron Harris (643 yards, 10 TDs), Donald Chaney Jr. (322 yards, three TDs), and Jaylan Knighton (209 yards, one score).
While that experience, plus a veteran offensive line, bodes well for Miami, these same players struggled last season against top competition.
The Canes finished the regular season 8-2, but lost 42-17 to then-No. 1 Clemson last fall. They also got pummeled, 62-26, by then-No. 17 North Carolina in December.
Another concern for Miami is the loss of first-round pick Jaelan Phillips, who recorded a team-high eight sacks last season, and defensive lineman Quincy Roche (45 tackles, 4.5 sacks).
Alabama vs. Miami injury report
|Alabama Crimson Tide||Miami Hurricanes|
S DeMarrco Hellams: Questionable (ankle)
DE Thomas Davis: Out (undisclosed)
LB Quandarrius Robinson: Out (suspension)
OL John Campbell: Out (knee)
LB Labryan Ray: Questionable (groin)
S Brian Balom: Out (undisclosed)
WR John Metchie III: Questionable (ankle)
LB Sam Brooks: Out (toe)
TE Kendall Randolph: Questionable (ankle)
TE Dominic Mammarelli: Out (undisclosed)
WR Xavier Williams: Out (undisclosed)
S Avantae Williams: Out (suspension)
Alabama and Miami betting trends
- Miami is 4-2 ATS as an underdog in its last six games
- The Hurricanes are 3-4 ATS in their last seven non-conference games
- Alabama was 5-3 ATS when favored by 19 or more points last season
- Under Nick Saban, Alabama is 14-0 SU and 11-2 ATS in the first game of the season
Saban doesn't lose season openers
While Miami should see improvement compared to last year, the Crimson Tide are far too difficult a test to start the 2021 season.
The last time Alabama was defeated in a season opener was 2001, against UCLA. The last time the team won by less than a double-digit margin was 2006, against Hawaii.
Even if the new-look offense is shaky at the start, the Alabama defense will be too much for the Canes to handle.
Miami will keep it interesting in the first half, but by the third quarter, the Crimson Tide will put this game well out of reach.
Score prediction: Alabama 44, Miami 21