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Free Pick: Alabama vs. Miami at Atlanta 9/4/21
Kyle Robertson-USA TODAY Sports

Free Pick: Alabama vs. Miami at Atlanta 9/4/21

Top-ranked Alabama opens the season against a good Miami Hurricanes team in neutral site Atlanta (not really, it will be Alabama East) this Saturday. The Crimson Tide have a lot of new faces at very important positions and if it were anyone else they would be considered vulnerable, but this is Alabama and we just assume that they have new bullets to reload their guns. On the other hand, the Hurricanes aren’t exactly chopped liver and they have a dynamic quarterback (if healthy) but do they have the confidence to make this a game. Let’s check out the matchups.

Quarterbacks: Miami returns D’Eriq King, a dynamic playmaker who averaged almost 300 yards of total offense per game in 2020. The big question will be is he fully recovered from a knee injury suffered in the bowl game. If he is, they will be formidable. On the other hand, Alabama will send out untested Bryce Young who has all the tools and is obviously talented or he wouldn’t be in Tuscaloosa. Advantage: Miami

Running Backs: Najee Harris was the superstar back at Alabama in 2020 and he has departed. But Brian Robinson, Jr. showed tremendous potential in spot duty and there is depth behind him. Meanwhile, Miami will counter with Cam’Ron Harris who rushed for 623 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2020. Advantage: Alabama

Receivers: Miami has several returning receivers with plenty of experience for King to throw to. Alabama lost DeVonta Smith to the NFL and all he did was catch 117 passes for 1859 yards and 23 touchdowns. They will have replacements but he will be hard to replace. Advantage: Miami

Offensive Line: Miami returns all 5 starters from an offense that averaged for almost 440 yards per game. The Crimson Tide is tinkering with their line as only two starters return. Advantage: Miami

Defensive Line: The Tide has strength and numbers upfront returning and is superior to the Hurricanes. Advantage: Alabama

Linebackers: Alabama returns three outstanding linebackers with Christian Harris, Will Anderson Jr, and Christopher Allen leading the way. Miami has Gilbert Frierson and must replace two other staters. Advantage: Alabama

Secondary: The secondary at Miami returns Bubba Bolden who was 2nd team All-ACC in 2020 and had 74 tackles. Alabama has Josh Jobe who could be the next great Alabama defensive back. Advantage: Neither

Coaching: Is there really any reason to discuss this category? Advantage: Alabama

Alabama comes into this game as a 19.5 favorite which is based largely on their reputation which they have earned. On paper, they don’t look like that big of a favorite. The problem, again, with opening games, especially concerning the Tide, is I haven’t seen their replacements at so many skill positions actually play. I trust that they are very good players or they wouldn’t be at Alabama but they are still unknown when the lights come on. The line at 19.5 seems a tad too high for my liking.

Papa Dude Pick: Miami +19.5 But my bet will come with a yellow caution flag

Aaron’a Pick: Alabama -19.5

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