College Football Predictions Week One: #1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs Virginia Tech Hokies

#1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs Virginia Tech Hokies
Georgia Dome – Atlanta, Georgia
Saturday, August 31, 2013, 5:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Alabama -17 1/2
Current Line: Alabama -20 1/2
Opening Total: 45
Current Total: 45 1/2
Opening Money Line: Alabama -1300 / Virginia Tech +810
Current Money Line: Alabama -1500 / Virginia Tech +890

Alabama looks to win their third straight national title. The Crimson Tide are 20.5 point favorites in Atlanta against Virginia Tech Saturday.
Alabama looks to win their third straight national title. The Crimson Tide are 20.5 point favorites in Atlanta against Virginia Tech Saturday.

The two time defending BCS National Champions open play in 2013 at the Georgia Dome as they take on the Virginia Tech Hokies Saturday. Alabama leads the series 11-1 against Virginia Tech. The Crimson Tide won the last meeting also in Atlanta to open the 2009 season 34-24.

Alabama, coached by Nick Saban, went 13-1 last season with the only loss coming at home to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M 29-24. The Crimson Tide beat Georgia in the SEC Championship game 32-28 in what was for all intents and purposes a semifinal for the BCS Championship game. Alabama would then crush undefeated Notre Dame 42-14 in the BCS Championship Game.

Virginia Tech, coached by Frank Beamer, went 7-6 and barely kept their 20 year streak of going to a bowl game alive. The Hokies had to beat Boston College and rival Virginia to become bowl eligible. The Hokies would upset Big East co-champ Rutgers 13-10 in overtime in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

Alabama is so deep and loaded with 5 star talent that even the reserves could start for any team in the country. The offense will be good if not great again this season despite losing several NFL quality players up front.

Senior quarterback A.J. McCarron is looking to win his third national championship in four years as a starter. He won’t put up the gaudy video game like stats like Manziel, but McCarron’s decision making is arguably the best in college football. He completed 67.2% of his passes for 2,933 yards with 30 touchdowns and 3 interceptions along with a rushing touchdown. Sophomore running back T.J. Yeldon split the carries last year with Eddie Lacy. Lacy is now with the Green Bay Packers, so Yeldon will get more carries. He had 175 carries, 1,108 yards, with 12 touchdowns, and also caught 11 passes and a touchdown. Sophomore Kenyan Drake will also get more carries this year after rushing for 281 yards and 5 touchdowns last year. Sophomore receiver Amari Cooper had 59 catches, 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. Kevin Norwood, Kenny Bell and Christion Jones will also get plenty of targets and catches. Last year’s offensive line was arguably the most talented in the history of college football but must replace 3 starters who were all NFL draft picks.

Alabama led the nation in run defense, total defense and scoring defense in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. The Crimson Tide started a lot of freshman and sophomores last year and as scary as it seems this year’s defense could be even more dominant than last year. The only question could be the secondary which was lit up by LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger and Manziel. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had 5 interceptiosn last year. Teh Linebackers are led by C.J. Mosley (103 tackles), and Adrain Hubbard who had 7 sacks last year.

The Virginia Tech offense struggled last season as they were 81st nationally in scoring and total offense. The offense must get better under new coordinator Scott Loeffler or the Hokies’ bowl streak could be in jeopardy.

Senior quarterback Logan Thomas struggled last year after a great sophomore year. Thomas completed 51.3% of his passes for 2,976 yards with 18 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, along with 174 carries, 524 yards and 9 touchdowns. Thomas must play much better or the offense will struggle again. ┬áRunning backs J.C. Coleman and redshirt freshman Trey Edmunds will split most of the carries that don’t go to Thomas. Coleman had 109 carries, 492 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 21 catches, 132 yards and a touchdown. He is questionable with an ankle injury. Senior receiver D.J. Coles missed all of last season with a knee injury but had 36 catches, 480 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2011. The other receivers are inexperienced and Coles could be the go-to receiver. The line struggled last year and must repalce both starting tackles.

The defense kept Virginia Tech in a lot of games last season. The Hokies were #18 nationally in total defense, and lose only 2 starters from that unit.  The Hokies have an excellent pass defense as the pass rush and secondary are very good. Defensive end James Gyale had 5 sacks last year. Linebacker Jack Tyler had 119 tackles last year. Cornerback Antone Exum had 5 picks last year, but is doubtful with a knee injury.

Alabama is 7-1 ATS in neutral site games, 4-1 on fieldturf, and 10-4 in non-conference games.

Virginia Tech is 4-1 ATS in August, 7-18-1 overall, 1-3-1 in neutral site games, and 2-7-1 in non-conference games.

Virginia Tech’s defense might keep them in the game for a while, but I don’t think the Hokies can score with Alabama. The Tide wins and covers easily.

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