Despite going 12–2 straight up last season, Alabama was just 4–9–1 against the spread. The No. 3 Crimson Tide open their 2015 season at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, against the No. 20 Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday.
Alabama is a 10.5-point betting favorite over Wisconsin according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. This will be the 68th straight game in which the Crimson Tide are the betting favorite, dating all the way back to December 2009.
On offense, Alabama loses quarterback Blake Sims (who set the single-season record for passing yards last season), running back T.J. Yeldon (the school's No. 4 all-time leading rusher) and the team's top three receivers, including superstar Amari Cooper. For most schools, this would be impossible to overcome, but it’s just business as usual in Alabama.
Elite prospects at every position have been recruited to replace the players who have moved on. The returning star of the offense is running back Derrick Henry, who had 990 yards and 11 touchdowns on just 172 carries last season. Jake Coker, Alec Morris and Cooper Bateman will battle for the starting quarterback position, which may continue into the regular season.
Wisconsin has a history of replacing its running backs like clockwork, but Corey Clement has some big shoes to fill this season. Melvin Gordon led college football with 2,587 rushing yards last season and had 29 rushing touchdowns as well. Corey Clement racked up 949 rushing yards and nine touchdowns in relief last year and will get an early test against Alabama’s stout defense. The Badgers are 1–3 SU and ATS in their last four games against SEC opponents.
The total for Saturday’s Badgers vs. Crimson Tide betting matchup is currently set at 50.5 points. The OVER has gone 4–0 in Alabama’s last four games for totals bettors according to the OddsShark College Football Database.
Alabama’s quarterback battle is not only interesting for its long-term implications, but also for the difficulties it could pose for Wisconsin. Coker has a huge arm, Bateman has great athleticism with solid speed and Morris is the most consistent pocket passer in the fold. The Badgers will need to be on top of their in-game adjustments to react to which quarterback is on the field for the Crimson Tide.
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