Alabama vs USC College Football Odds & Game Preview

Posted by Jordan Walters on Tuesday,May 31, 2016 10:21, EDT in

You can’t make the College Football Playoff in Week 1 of the season but you could potentially be knocked out of consideration for it if you are blown out. And a Week 1 loss also gives teams no wiggle room because no two-loss teams have made the playoff yet. Thus there’s plenty on the line when powerhouses Alabama and USC open the season against one another at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in the Cowboys Classic. Both teams will certainly be ranked in the Top 25 when the first polls come out, with defending national champion Alabama in the Top 5. The Tide are 11-point favorites on college football odds for the Sept 3 showdown.

An In Depth Report on the Alabama vs USC College Football Odds & Game Preview

Both these teams have to settle on a quarterback in fall camp. It’s the third straight season the Tide don’t know who their QB will be in the summer. Blake Sims came out of nowhere in 2014, thriving under offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and setting numerous team records. Jake Coker didn’t start a game in his career until his redshirt senior season at Alabama. Coker then lost the job in Game 3 before rebounding to finish 14-0 in 2015. The candidates to replace Coker are junior Cooper Bateman, the only QB on the roster with game experience, sophomore David Cornwell, redshirt freshman Blake Barnett, who probably has the most upside, and freshman Jalen Hurts.

Southern Cal has to replace Cody Kessler. The two candidates are redshirt junior Max Browne and redshirt freshman Sam Darnold. Browne, Kessler’s backup the last two seasons, was widely considered the favorite to win the starting job despite an impressive camp by Darnold last fall. After completing his fourth spring with the program, Browne is as ready as he’ll ever be to take over the starting job. He has a strong pocket presence and big arm that USC could use to take more downfield shots. Darnold has a lot of the physical qualities Browne does: Good size, big arm. The difference is that Darnold is a much better athlete.

Alabama leads the all-time series 5-2 over USC, but the Trojans had two historic victories over the Tide in Birmingham. Led by African-American fullback Sam Cunningham, tailback Clarence Davis and quarterback Jimmy Jones, USC crushed Alabama 42-21 in 1970 serving as the catalyst for the integration of Southern football. In 1978, the two national powers split the national title despite the Trojans 24-14 win over the Tide. USC is 21-11-1 all-time against teams from the SEC, including four consecutive victories.

The 2016 season opener against will mark the sixth time Alabama has started the year at a neutral site against a Power 5 opponent under Coach Nick Saban. In Saban’s second year at Alabama in 2008, the Tide opened the season by routing Clemson 34-10. It was a game that Saban said “sort of got the program off the ground.” Since then, Alabama has had five neutral-site openers vs. Power 5 opponents (all victories). In the two years (2010 and 2011) Alabama didn’t open at a neutral site, the Tide played a home-and-home with Penn State (Alabama won both meetings).

In their history, the Trojans and Tide have produced 27 national champions (11 by USC, 16 by Alabama) and eight Heisman Trophy winners (6 USC, 2 Alabama). The Tide’s Derrick Henry won the Heisman last year but is now a member of the Tennessee Titans. There is one big current connection between the schools: former USC coach Kiffin. He was fired from there in early in the 2013 season.

This game will be shown at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. The Tide are -425 on college football odds for the moneyline with USC at +305.