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Jumbo Package: Alabama heavily favored over Miami in week one

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

1993 Sugar Bowl: Alabama Crimson Tide v Miami Hurricanes Photo by Collegiate Images via Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone. Softball is back in action at noon CT today, facing Kentucky in the Super Regional round. The winner of the series heads to the WCWS in Oklahoma City. Meanwhile, the baseball team has made its case for a NCAA bid with wins over South Carolina and Tennessee in the SEC tournament, last night’s loss to Florida notwithstanding. Today brings a rematch with the Vols.

There isn’t a ton of news out there regarding football, but the Tide sits atop yet another early ranking.

1) Alabama

Despite losing a whole host of talent to the NFL Draft, it’s hard to argue with a Nick Saban-led Alabama team. It’s even harder to look past the Crimson Tide when you consider the talent that they return.

The Crimson Tide have one of the best offensive tackles in the nation in Evan Neal. The linebacker group led by Christian Harris and Will Anderson got even richer with the transfer of Henry To’o To’o. Josh Jobe, Malachi Moore, and Jordan Battle constitute a formidable secondary.

Arguably the most significant question marks for Alabama are on offense. Can the likes of John Metchie III and Slade Bolden step up and lead the WR room? Will freshman Agiye Hall provide the pass-catching spark? Can Brian Robinson fill Najee Harris’ considerable shoes? How will Bryce Young perform in his first season as the full-time starter?

Although those questions are yet to be answered, you can be sure that Saban has the cheat sheet.

The rat poison is going to be on overdrive this fall, starting with the betting line against Miami in the first matchup between the programs since the 1993 Sugar Bowl.

Alabama (-17.5) vs. Miami

Under Nick Saban, Alabama has consistently opened its seasons with neutral site games against Power Five opponents. Things have not gone well for those opponents. Alabama is 10-0 in those games with a 9-1 mark against the spread. The only time Alabama did not cover the spread in a neutral site opener was in 2014 when it beat West Virginia by 10 points as a 22-point favorite.

This time around, the Tide open up as 17.5-point favorites against Miami. Despite losing their last two games, the Hurricanes still had a nice season in 2020, finishing 8-3. QB D’Eriq King suffered a serious knee injury in the team’s bowl loss to Oklahoma State. He is expected to be back for the season, but will he be 100 percent?

That line seems a bit light, to be honest. Even rebuilding the offense, I’m thinking they win by at least 20. Something around, I don’t know, 34-13 seems like a decent starting point.

247 ranks the ten best transfers in college football history, and one Landon Dickerson made the list.

There wasn’t any doubting Dickerson’s talent when he arrived in Tuscaloosa after three years at Florida State, merely his durability. He won a starting job at right guard for the season opener his true freshman year and logged seven starts before season-ending injuries each of the next three years. That allowed him to transfer as a graduate to Alabama, where he became the heart-and-soul of the Alabama offensive line. He moved to center to fill a need — Dickerson hadn’t ever done so before — becoming a second-team All-SEC pick in his first year at Alabama, then becoming a unanimous All-American and winning the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s best center as a senior.

Barrett Sallee has the schedule for all Bowl games, including the first annual Fenway Bowl.

Tom Fornelli has a list of games that can impact the playoff this year, and Alabama is on it several times.

WEEK 3 - Alabama at Florida

I can’t help but believe people are writing off Florida a little too quickly heading into the new season, and this will be an early-season test for the Gators. If they hang tough with the Tide or pull off the upset, they’ll earn more support as a team capable of reaching the playoff for the first time. As for the Tide, while they open the season against Miami in Atlanta, this will be the team’s first true road test of the season, and The Swamp is a difficult environment to play in. We’ll learn a lot about both teams.

Unless Emory Jones morphs into something resembling a competent college QB, I will continue to write off the Gators. Dan Mullen hasn’t recruited well enough to overcome bad play at the position. Alabama appears on the list more than anyone else and will once again have an outsized impact on the college football season.

Oklahoma is displeased with the kickoff time of their anniversary date with Nebraska, which they are excited for even though the Huskers had planned to pull out.

This season’s game is to mark the anniversary of the legendary 1971 matchup between No. 1 Nebraska and No. 2 Oklahoma, with the Cornhuskers winning 35-31.

The TV time isn’t the first bit of upheaval surrounding this year’s game. Reports suggested in March that Nebraska was trying to get out of the game, before Huskers athletic director Bill Moos admitted they explored the possibility of adding an eighth home game.

“That option would have helped us mitigate cost-cutting measures and provide a much-needed boost to our local economy,” he said. “Ultimately, the decision was made to move forward with our game at Oklahoma in 2021.”

Castiglione also spoke at that time about the significance of the game and said Oklahoma would have events planned around it.

We know what it’s like to be jerked around by the TV networks. It’s a shame that they have so much power.

Last, one of the dumbest plays in MLB history happened yesterday. If you haven’t seen it, click below. Note that there were two outs in the inning, so all the Pirates had to do was tag the batter out at any point and no runs would have counted. It was a complete mental breakdown by the first baseman. It did, however, provide comedic genius Three Year Letterman an opportunity to do his thing and reel in some gullible folks.

You absolutely must read some of the replies to this and the follow up tweets. Here is a sampling for you. People are dumb, y’all.

That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.