Key matchups to watch in Week 1
3:01 | College Football
Key matchups to watch in Week 1
Wednesday August 31st, 2016

The USC Trojans are 3–1 straight up and 4–0 against the spread in their last four games as double-digit underdogs. The Trojans will be just that for the first time since 2011 this Saturday night when they take on the Alabama Crimson Tide at AT&T Stadium.

USC is listed as a 12-point underdog for its game in Arlington, Texas, at sportsbooks monitored by This will be the ninth time in the last 20 years that the Trojans have been double-digit underdogs, and the team has gone 6–2 ATS in the previous eight instances.

The Trojans showed promise out of the gate in 2015, blowing out Arkansas State 55–6 and Idaho 59–9 in the team’s first two games. But from that point forward against more talented competition, the Trojans went just 6–6 SU and 4–8 ATS.

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USC’s once proud defense was torched in 2015, giving up over 40 points on four separate occasions. New defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast will be tasked with turning that unit around this season.

In 12 games as a betting underdog since 2012, USC is 4–8 SU and ATS per the OddsShark College Football Database.

More odds: Complete betting overview for Week 1’s biggest games

Since taking on Kent State in their first game in 2011, the Crimson Tide have had an impressive list of season openers against legitimate programs. Alabama scheduled Michigan in 2012, Virginia Tech in 2013, West Virginia in 2014 and Wisconsin last year.

And the Tide haven’t slipped up yet, going 4–0 SU and 3–1 ATS over that stretch and winning by an average margin of 20 points per game. With another impressive season-opening win on Saturday, Alabama would extend its current winning streak to 13 games.

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The total for Saturday’s Trojans vs. Crimson Tide betting matchup is set at 53.5 points. The OVER is a perfect 5–0 in each of Alabama’s last five Week 1 games.

Alabama’s Nick Saban is entering his 10th year as head coach of the Tide after taking over in 2007. Clay Helton is entering his first full season as head coach of USC, and is one of five coaches to hold this position in that same 10-year span. While USC is hoping to start off a new era with a bang on Saturday, Alabama will just be seeking business as usual.

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