Alabama-Arkansas State Bet to Watch: Saban Eases Up in These Spots

Alabama-Arkansas State Bet to Watch: Saban Eases Up in These Spots article feature image

Aug 4, 2018; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide Nick Saban coaches as the Alabama Crimson Tide football team holds practice at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory credit: Mickey Welsh/Advertiser via USA TODAY NETWORK

Arkansas State vs. Alabama odds

  • Spread: Alabama -36
  • Over/Under: 65
  • Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN2

If Nick Saban needs to make a statement, he’ll do it.

A Vanderbilt player saying “Alabama, you’re next” after the Commodores started 3-0 last season? 59-0 Tide.

An upstart USC team many were calling a national title dark horse to open 2016? 52-6 Bama.

But against Group of 5 and FCS schools, Saban doesn’t always put his foot on the throttle. He can lay off.

Alabama hosts Arkansas State on Saturday a week after stomping Louisville in Orlando, 51-14, as 24-point favorites. Tua Tagovailoa was stellar in that game, completing 12-of-16 passes for 227 yards and two scores. The defense, especially the supposedly green secondary, was just as good.

Our Mike Johnson, a former Alabama offensive lineman, thinks this is the best offense the Tide have had under Saban, and he’s not alone. And the defense is right up there with the elite units Saban has produced for the last decade.

Arkansas State is no slouch. The Red Wolves are favored to win the Sun Belt and finished top 60 in offensive and defensive S&P+ last year (19th on offense).

Can they hang inside this big number, or is Alabama just too talented?

Alabama-Arkansas State Bet to Watch

While I was hesitant to lay any points with Louisville, I find the Arkansas State spot much better to fade Alabama. The Crimson Tide have Ole Miss on deck, and per Bet Labs, Alabama is 5-14 ATS when favored by 28.5 or more points against nonconference opponents.

My power ratings have this number closer to 30, while S&P+ is around 33.5 in favor of the Crimson Tide. Getting any points north of 35 should have plenty of value.

Red Wolves quarterback Justice Hansen is one of the best passers in the Group of 5, going for 37 touchdowns and 8.1 yards per attempt in 2017. Hansen had six touchdowns in last week’s game against Southeast Missouri State.

This offense ranked seventh in Passing Success Rate for 2017 and should put up enough points to get within five touchdowns for a cover.

Play On: Arkansas State +36