Alabama Crimson Tide Betting Total: O/U 10.5 Wins
The Alabama Crimson Tide are returning to the college football season with a bad taste in their mouth after they missed out on a college football playoff berth for the first time with what may have been their most explosive offense in school history. Now, they return a very interesting team that has a lot more questions than usual but the same talent level across the board.
The Crimson Tide are projected to win 10.5 games next year with the over on 10.5 at -200. I think that the line is relatively appropriate right now, but could vary drastically by the time the season rolls around in 4 months.
Alabama is losing their best QB prospect in the Saban era by a country mile and two first round receivers. While this sounds like a team set up for a big drop off, that is not necessarily the case in Tuscaloosa. They are returning two elite receivers and a former 5-star running back to an offensive line that only loses one player. Alex Leatherwood, who was once thought to be a top O-lineman in the 2020 draft class is returning to raise the bar after his poor play in comparison to expectations in 2020.
They will lose Tua, Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, and Jedrick Wills in the first round of the NFL draft, which show just how good all 4 of these players were. However, I think that the turnover for them on the offensive side of the ball isn’t super drastic outside of WR3 and QB, obviously.
On defense, the Tide do not lose a ton of production outside of their secondary with both Xavier McKinney and Trevon Diggs leaving. The defensive front 7 for the Tide is likely about as experienced as they have been in the last 10 years, but that does raise a few questions about the talent on the defense. Alabama has top 5 talent on both sides of the ball every single year, but in recent years they have not been the defensive powerhouse they were in the early 2000’s. Some of that has to do with new offensive schemes and systems being introduced to the SEC, but I think there can be concern about a lack of talent relative to expectations.
I think that these concerns can be addressed by talking about the injuries that have held Dylan Moses and LaBryan Ray out of the 2020 draft entirely. Most of the time, elite programs want their best players/recruits to be 3 and done simply because that means that they played as good as they were expected to. In this case, Bama had been hit by the injury bug a bit last season and it should leave them with plenty of defensive talent and experience.
Season Preview and Keys to the Line
I think that the Alabama defense will be better than it has been in the last few years, but the talking point around the Crimson Tide should be their QB situation. This situation is one that I have looked forward to since Tua’s injury and it is the first major QB battle since 2015 in major CFB that could easily decide the national champion that wasn’t pretty obvious.
Mac Jones was a very good QB in his time after Tua went out with a broken hip, but Jones is not on the same level as Bryce Young, an incoming 5-star freshman from Mater Dei in California. I think that Young should win the job, but a lack of Spring reps and the performance that Jones had in the last few games of the season makes this an interesting QB battle.
I am very interested to watch how this QB battle plays out before betting on this team either way, but I think that I would bet the + money on the under if I had to bet right now. If I were in charge of winning Alabama games this year, I would start Bryce Young, and we have seen Saban be aggressive in these situations before, but I am very unsure about what will happen. What I am sure about is that they have their toughest schedule in years with Georgia at home, USC early, and LSU on the road, so I think that anything other than elite QB play could lose them games, even against a team like Auburn who has a second year 5-star talent at QB.
I would take +162 on the under in hopes that Jones starts and there is confusion around their offense in early big games. If we get word on Young starting their first game or being the clear QB1, I think I’d prefer to bet on the ceiling rather than bet on the over/under. Bama is -143 to win the SEC, -200 to win the SEC West, and +400 to win the national championship and I think that all three of those bets are better than the over prop, regardless of the starter.
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