Nick Saban is apparently treating the ACC like Pokemon: he’s gotta catch ‘em all. After Clemson, Duke, and Virginia Tech, the Tide has set its sights on an old nemesis in a new setting: Bobby Petrino and his Louisville Cardinals.
This game was already apt to be a mismatch: Petrino’s teams have rarely competed well with Saban’s units -- losing by 24 points per game in their four previous meetings. And, having seen how elite defenses have eviscerated even the Lamar Jackson -led Cardinals, Alabama was going to go into 2018 with a big number. With the former Heisman winner and two-time all-American off to the greener pastures of the NFL, the opening spread is huge — 26 points on a neutral field.
Oddsmakers have installed Alabama as a 26-point favorite in the neutral site affair against a Cardinals team playing without Heisman-winning playmaker Lamar Jackson at quarterback for the first time in three years.
It’s way too early to handicap this one. But, my initial thought is that with Alabama’s margin of victory over conference foes hovering close to 25 points over the past few seasons, -26 doesn’t seem out of line. And, with a new UL quarterback (former Tide target Jawon Pass) facing a Nick Saban defense for the first time, and a Cardinals defense that has been downright putrid at times, I’d expect this number to actually grow as the sharp money comes in later over the summer.