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Jumbo Package: Alabama begins defense of its 2020 national championship

CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama
Hard to think you lose these guys and get better
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

IIRC, Josh just drops predictions on these Friday JP’s, alongside some hot takes. So I’ll do the same.

Miami Herald:

Miami Hurricanes can shock world and beat No. 1 Alabama. No, really. Here’s why and how

The Miami Hurricanes have a legitimate shot to shock the college football world Saturday and turn Nick Saban all grumpy by upsetting his mighty Alabama Crimson Tide in the season opener in Atlanta. There, I said it. Even weirder, I mean it.

By contrast, this is a young, less experienced Tide team, especially on offense. The Saban recruiting pipeline always replaces talent with talent, but it is hard to imagine there won’t be a falloff or learning curve in an offense that is replacing coordinator Steve Sarkisian, QB Mac Jones, running back Najee Harris, receivers Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, and three starting offensive linemen.

Five of those seven departed players were NFL first-round draft picks in April.

And Alabama’s least experience at any position is at the most important one. Bryce (Very) Young just turned 20. He threw 22 passes last season, all in garbage time with Bama mercilessly ahead. Saturday will be his first college start, first time facing a ranked opponent, and first time in a full stadium. Miami’s retooled defense and pass rush have a chance to rattle him, maybe force turnovers.

Really interesting story here. Thirty years ago, it was Miami basking in an historic dynasty, while Alabama had spent the better part of a decade-plus wandering in the woods. Since the time, however, the worm has truly turned.

Alabama defenestrated those smack-talking ‘Canes en route to a #manball national title. It would go on to add natties in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017 and 2020.

Miami? Well...

Ever since UM bunched those five national championships in its own dynastic run from 1983 to 2001, Canes fans have waited for new glory days. Fortunes fell off sharply when UM joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004. Gone was the freedom of being an independent and later the friendly confines of the lil’ Big East. Welcome to the Power 5, fellas.

Miami since ‘04 has won zero ACC championships and played for the title only once, in 2017, losing 38-3. That’s despite being in the division not including mighty Clemson and rival Florida State.

There have been teases along the way in the 20 years since the halcyon days died, sporadic reasons to keep hope (and “Is The U back”) alive. Yet, bottom line, Randy Shannon, Al Golden and Mark Richt all failed to accomplish what now is Manny Diaz’s aim: win another national championship.

Because, when your school has won five, anything less means you aren’t back.

Nick had his weekly call in last night, and perhaps the only real news of note was the health status of two Tide contributors (and one is a player we devoutly hope to see instead of a dread No. 3 jersey).

Asked about health, Saban said he always asks players if they can play regardless of the training staff’s opinion. He added he does not know if players are ready. He said LaBryan Ray and DeMarcco Hellams have practiced but are game-time decisions.

This seems to be a very popular opinion:

Bama’s defense will be nasty, but their offense is going through a massive turnover. Bama wins - because, I mean, come on......they have a roster of largely Top 100 recruits and the greatest coach of all time, but Miami covers.

CBS Sports:

Whether Miami can keep up will depend on what King is able to do against this Tide defense, but the Hurricanes should do enough to keep pressure on Young and Co. for all four quarters. Alabama will get the job done and force a few mistakes, but Las Vegas isn’t giving the Hurricanes enough respect. Prediction: Miami (+18.5)

Sun-Sentinel is pulling for the moral victory:

Dave Hyde, Sports Columnist: Alabama 38, Miami 19

The question is if it feels this close. This was the score Alabama beat Missouri by in last year’s opener. It’s a better prediction for Miami than the 52-24 score Alabama closed the season against a great Ohio State team in winning the national title. The reasons are simple and familiar. Too much Bama. Too much Nick Saban.

BOL / 247 gives their call:

Kirk McNair: Alabama 38, Miami 17

Miami wants to be the big, bad Canes of old, but Coach Manny Diaz hasn’t gotten that done…yet. Miami booster Dan Lambert, who plans to spend over half a million dollars in NIL payouts to Hurricanes players, should move that goal along. The addition of QB D’Eriq King from Houston prior to last season was a big help, but King is at least questionable to be full speed following a knee injury. Miami is expected to be between the second and fourth best team in the ACC, and there’s a big drop from No. 1 Clemson to No. 2.

Canes Warning:

Do we know if D’Eriq King is at full strength or how well the Hurricanes will be able to contact the Crimson Tide’s fierce defensive front? That’s the biggest question to me in this one.

If Miami gets into an early hole, that could set up for disaster against the more talented opponent. I’m anxious to see the first glimpse of Alabama’s Bill O’Brien-led offense with Bryce Young at quarterback, too. … Alabama 38, Miami 17.

The now-venerable Herbstreit at ESPN gives his take — yet another “the game isn’t too big; the Canes have talent; Bama wins, but The U covers, etc.” Can you believe he’s now been covering CFB for 25 years? Yikes. Where did a quarter-century go?

“New quarterback in Bryce Young, you got new running backs, a lot of new receivers,” Herbstreit said of UA. “‘Bama is going to be relying early on old-school ‘Bama —dominant defense and playing smart on offense. I think because of that, I don’t see a blowout. I think (quarterback) D’Eriq King and Miami can hang around, and I think they can be competitive. I think ‘Bama wins the game, but I think the ‘Canes can compete.”

My opinion? The moment is too big for Manny Diaz, it is too big for the ‘Canes, and it is too big for D’Eriq King.

Diaz’s teams have been simply awful getting off to good starts against quality teams, and then they slap get the doors blown off them. The corners lose a lot of one-on-one battles from the aggressive style of defense they play. The linebackers are fast but tiny and forgettable — just another group of guys. And D’Eriq King is a turnover machine. He always has been, and that is especially the case against good teams. Big Lots Lamar Jackson signed with Houston for a reason, y’all.

Way, way too much Alabama: too much talent, too much defense, too much speed, too much Nick Saban. I think Alabama harasses King all night, forcing dumb turnovers (we’re not ruling out a NOT), and the Alabama offense plows over this undersized front seven. Bryce Young gets to see some corners being greedy and cheating, hitting a few deep shots to ease him into the starting job.

Alabama wins (and covers) easily, and it may not even be competitive.
Alabama 44 Miami 16

Who ya’ got and why?