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Western Kentucky

vs.

Alabama

College Football Pick

9/10/16

There was a slight question of who the No. 1 team in the country was ahead of the first games, but that question doesn't exist anymore after Alabama romped over USC 52-6. The Crimson Tide picked up as usual in the win, dominating every area of the field.

With Western Kentucky on the slate next, the Tide opened as a -24 point favorite at betonline sportsbook, the very first book to post lines each week. Alabama money quickly poured in pushing the line to Alabama -27 within an hour. Once other shops posted their openers, the Bama money continued to come in, pushing the number to -28.5 where it sits late Monday when this is being written.

Most thought this spread would be a bit higher, especially coming off a 46-point win, and this only means Alabama is going to get heavy money. But Western Kentucky can't be overlooked. In addition, Alabama beat a similar team in Middle Tennessee 37-10 in the same spot last season. There's obviously a huge letdown scenario for the Tide where they don't aim to win by 50 points.

As for the Hilltoppers, they brought in a new quarterback in the opener against Rice (46-14 win), and it was business as usual for the offense. Mike White took the spot of record-breaking Brandon Doughty, and that was it. White threw for 517 yards and three touchdowns to top targets Taywan Taylor and Nicholas Norris, who combined for 12 receptions, 312 yards and two touchdowns. The ground game struggled a bit, which is somewhat worrisome for this game, but Alabama's weakness is in the secondary, if there is one.

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Alabama also is going with a couple new quarterbacks to start the year, and like WKU, there were no problems. Blake Barnett started, got hurt, then came back and finished with 100 yards and a touchdown on six attempts. Jalen Hurts attempted 11 passes for 118 yards and two TDs, but also ran for 32 yards and two more TDs. And finally, Cooper Bateman entered the game late, but wasn't asked to do much.

So at this point, while Nick Saban hasn't really decided on a full-time starter for his team, it doesn't seem to matter as both Barnett and Hurts look like an effective pair. Although against better teams, that may come back to bite them.

The success of the quarterbacks is made easier via the skill players around them. ArDarius Stewart (113 yards, 2 TDs), O.J. Howard and Calvin Ridley are all great options, and they brought in Gehrig Dieter as a transfer from Bowling Green to help even more. The running game is once again loaded with Damien Harris making the most noise in the first game with a 73-yard run, but Bo Scarbrough led with 11 carries and had a touchdown.

The Tide ran for 242 yards and three TDs against USC and could break 300 yards in the game against WKU. The Hilltoppers have a viable offense, but have never really done a whole lot defensively and stopping Rice to 14 points isn't saying much.

Expect 'Bama to run all over Western Kentucky in this game, with whoever the quarterback is, finding plenty of holes in the secondary. Alabama had a mini letdown in this spot last year, but WKU's defense will allow them to reach 50-plus points again.

It'll be up to the Alabama defense to cover this game and after the opener, there's no reason to doubt them. That said, the Hilltoppers probably have a better offense than USC at this point, but betting on WKU to hit 20-plus points against this defense will be tough.

Our Pick - Western Kentucky was 12-2 last year, however, it was against a weak dance card. They did play LSU though, losing 48-20. Hmmm........right around where this line sits. Coincidence? Certainly we all know Alabama is the better team. But the potential for a letdown, or at least, a game, not quite as explosive as a week ago, is a very real possibility here.

We'd lean towards Western Kentucky, just for that reason. Actually, the total looks like it might be a better opportunity. As this is being written on Monday afternoon, the total is 58. We like this game to go OVER 58

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