Saturday College Football Best Bets for Alabama vs. Miami: How to Bet Today’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game (Sept. 4)
Alika Jenner & Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured from left: Brian Robinson Jr. #4 of the Alabama Crimson Tide and Amari Carter #5 of the Miami Hurricanes.
Alabama vs. Miami Odds
Week 1 of the college football season is here, and we didn’t have to wait long for a matchup between two powerhouses.
D’Eriq King will lead his No. 14 Miami Hurricanes into battle against the defending national champion and top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.
With a game of such magnitude already taking place during the first real week of the season, our college football staff had to take advantage from a betting perspective.
Our writers broke down nine bets for the game, ranging from your typical spread and total plays to game props, team totals, and even a double-result that will be decided when the game concludes.
After all, we’ve been waiting months for a game like this. Let’s enjoy it while we can.
Check out each pick for the game below, and navigate to any bet using the table below.
Our Best Bets for No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 14 Miami
The set of college football team logos below reflects each of our college football staff’s best bets for Saturday’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 14 Miami.
Click one of the bets in the “Pick” column below in order to navigate to that specific section in this article.
Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Photos via Getty Images.
I’m waiting to see how high this spread gets as I’d obviously like to get +21. It’s certainly not out of the question as there appears to be real professional money backing the Tide and I’m assuming late public money will do the same.
Am I a little scared to fade Alabama in this spot? Sure. The Tide are 14-0 SU (and 11-3 ATS) in season openers under Nick Saban, including a perfect 6-0 SU and ATS against ranked opponents. They won all six games by double digits with an average margin of just under 24 ppg.
That said, this number is simply too high compared to my power ratings which make this closer to 14.
The health of D’Eriq King is certainly noteworthy after the Miami quarterback suffered a season-ending injury in 2020, but all reports point to him being at 100%. If so, he’s the type of mobile quarterback who can pose problems for a Saban defense that plays a high frequency of man coverage.
King will work behind an offensive line that returns all five starters and has plenty of surrounding skill position talent, especially after Charleston Rambo transferred in from Oklahoma. That said, it won’t be a walk in the park against one of if not the best defense in the country.
I do have serious concerns about the Miami run defense, which struggled last year and has now elected to go smaller this season, giving up size for speed. Alabama could have a field day on the ground, but I expect the Miami defense to improve overall under the tutelage of Manny Diaz. The defense returns an abundance of production (outside of defensive end) and brought in two Power 5 transfers who should contribute right away. I’m just not sold on the fact that Alabama’s offense will be able to score at will.
There’s a lot of turnover in the coaching ranks and on the field on that side of the ball. And we still don’t know how Bryce Young will look in his first start against a defense that will always cause a great deal of havoc. Remember how bad CJ Stroud looked in the first half against Minnesota in his first start.
I know it’s Alabama and they simply reload, but I think this version of Alabama will be closer to the one we saw two years ago…a team that you could actually fade at times…and not the monster we all witnessed last year.
I could be mistaken, but I’ll pay to find out given the value I show. If you are going to ride along, just wait to see if that number will rise to 21 or higher before pulling the trigger. It’s obviously a crucial number and can increase the likelihood of a backdoor cover if needed.
By CJ Vogel
Say all you want about the gaffes of Bill O’Brien’s past, but the man knows how to coach football and the Crimson Tide certainly are not lacking for talent. But, and you had to have known a “but” was coming, there is a reason to believe the Tide’s offense will sputter out of the gates.
A new playcaller takes over an offense with a first time starting quarterback and will be throwing to receivers who, outside of John Metchie, have yet to be relied on as every down go-to guys.
You may be asking, where can Miami really hang with the Tide? It’s the secondary and lining up with Metchie and Co. Bubba Bolden, DJ Ivey, Amari Carter and Gurvan Hall Jr. all figured to be in a position to hear their names called on Draft Day at the conclusion of their time with Miami and will be a strength for The U this fall.
Offensively, the return of D’Eriq King is obviously important. King will have a new toy to play with on the outside with the addition of Charleston Rambo, who transferred this offseason from Oklahoma. Meanwhile, running backs Cam’Ron Harris and Don Chaney Jr. are talented backs who can get loose at any time.
My initial gut tells me Bryce Young struggles a little out of the gate, but is able to build a comfortable lead midway through the second half. The escapability of King will be able to keep things interesting for Miami, and ultimately close enough for bettors backing Miami. Ultimately, the line was too big for me to pass up.
By Doug Ziefel
Alabama opens as the favorite to win the national title, but they are a much different team than last year. We will no longer see the record-breaking offense that included four first-rounders and the eventual Heisman Trophy winner, though Nick Saban never has issues reloading and now possesses a very talented, but young offense.
Bryce Young is a former five-star recruit, notably, the highest-rated QB recruit in Alabama history, whose stature and playmaking ability had him drawing comparisons to Russell Wilson. Saban always seems to do his best work with young quarterbacks, so there should be tempered expectations, but no concern about the offense.
This Bama team will be riding the strength of its defense as it returns eight starters. The defensive unit from 2020 hit its stride over the final nine games as they held opponents to just 15.2 points per game. Entering the season with arguably the best secondary and linebacker core in the nation, the Tide defense should be the best it has been in years.
The Crimson Tide are set up to thrive in the opening matchup, as they have shown in years past — they’re 5-0 all-time at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Bama has won their last ten neutral-site openers by an average of 25 points.
Though, with the line climbing, we are targeting an earlier portion of the game. Last season, Bama jumped on opponents as they outscored them 153-44 in the first quarter. With Bama’s defense being as fresh as possible, I will gladly take them to cover in the first quarter.
By Alex Hinton
Keep in mind that against the three best teams on Miami’s schedule last season (Clemson, North Carolina, and Oklahoma State), it gave up an average of 47 PPG. That included allowing 42 points to Clemson and 62 points to North Carolina.
Miami returns a ton of starters on defense, but it also loses its disruptive defensive end tandem in Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche.
Bryce Young will take over at quarterback for the Crimson Tide and while the Crimson Tide will be breaking in new starters around him, he is not suddenly going to have a Group of 5 supporting cast.
John Metchie III will be one of the best wide receivers in the country and Slade Bolden and Ohio State transfer Jameson Williams are listed starters as well.
Left tackle Evan Neal may be the first offensive lineman taken in next year’s NFL Draft. He is one of three Alabama offensive linemen with starting experience, a unit that averages 6-4 and 316 pounds.
Alabama’s running back group averages about 5-11½ and 215 pounds — they are hard to bring down and will provide a challenge for Miami’s linebackers, the weak spot on the Canes defense.
North Carolina ran for 554 yards against Miami last season and with Alabama’s propensity to pound the rock, it will test how much the Miami run defense has improved.
Miami also should have a potent offense. Quarterback D’Eriq Kings is coming off an ACL tear in the Cheez-It Bowl, but he is reportedly healthy and looks explosive in camp. When healthy, he is one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the country.
Running backs Cam’Ron Harris, Don Chaney, and Jaylan Knighton form a solid running back trio while wide receivers Mike Harley, Charleston Rambo, and tight end Will Mallory form a potent trio of pass catchers. Left tackle Zion Nelson leads an offensive line with 109 starts.
This total opened up at 64.5 and has come down a bit, but it’s also a lower target to go over now. If Alabama gets at least 40, which I believe they will, that is about ⅔ of the way to hitting the over. Alabama’s defense is nasty led by edge rusher Will Anderson and defensive back Malachi Moore. However, Miami should do just enough to contribute to the over. I’m locking in Over 61.5 on FanDuel at -110.
Alabama comes into the opener going through a lot of turnover in the offseason. They have to replace a ton on both sides of the ball and also have a new offensive coordinator in Bill O’Brien.
For most programs, only returning 26% on offense from a TARP perspective would mean big time regression. But for Alabama, it does not matter, because they will slot in four- and five-star recruits at every position.
However, with that being said, they are not going to reach the heights on offense that they reached in 2020. With Mac Jones under center, the Crimson Tide gained 7.7 yards per play and were the No. 1 team in the country in offensive success rate and passing success rate.
Bryce Young was a five-star quarterback coming out of high school and has all of the tools to potentially be better than Mac Jones or Tua, but he won’t have the weapons that Mac Jones was blessed with last season. Also, Alabama was 81st in seconds per play, so I highly doubt the tempo is going to drastically increase under Bill O’Brien.
Young will also be facing a Miami defense that returns 84% according to TARP and was very good at getting to the opposing quarterback. In 2020, the Hurricanes had the 15th best pass rushing grade, per PFF and also ranked 16th in Havoc.
D’Eriq King had a fantastic first season with the Hurricanes in 2020, throwing for 8.2 yards per attempt and rushing for more than 500 yards. However, he really struggled when the Hurricanes faced the two toughest defenses on their schedule in Clemson and Pittsburgh in consecutive weeks. Against those two defenses, King only averaged 5.71 yards per attempt and threw four interceptions.
Alabama’s defense returns 74% according to TARP and will have some continuity under third-year defensive coordinator Pete Golding. The Crimson Tide return most of their front seven and added Tennessee transfer Henry To’o To’o to their linebacking core. That unit was top 25 in defensive success rate and havoc.
They do lose their top two guys in the secondary, but bring everyone else back and add the No. 1 cornerback in the 2021 class Ga’Quincy McKinstry, so it’s going to be very difficult for King to move the ball consistently on Saturday — especially since Miami had no real rushing attack in 2020, ranking 90th in rushing success rate.
I only have 55.25 points projected for this game, so I think there is some value on Under 62 points and would play it down to 60.5.
Miami’s offense will be great this year. Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee was a sneaky-elite addition to the staff in 2020, dialing up 75.8 plays per game — 7.2 more than Miami ran the year prior. In turn, the Hurricanes saw big jumps in both yards per play (5.1 to 5.8) and points per game (22.6 to 34.0).
With everyone returning, Miami’s a legitimate threat in the ACC. But this is the cream of the crop in the toughest conference in football; giving Nick Saban oodles of time to prepare for a dual-threat quarterback off an ACL injury in December is a dangerous proposition.
Conversely, it’ll take time for Alabama’s offense to sync. It has to, right?
The old adage of recycling 5-stars in Tuscaloosa certainly applies, but I’d be stunned to the gills if there weren’t some kinks to work out, especially early in a prime-time stage. The Crimson Tide are loaded, but they just cycled through the nastiest offensive depth chart in college football history over the last ~3 years, save for maybe 2019 LSU.
Enter Saban, who’s essentially a GIF of Will Smith walking into an empty living room a la Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Not a single team in the country returns less returning skill position usage than the Crimson Tide.
Bartender, pour me out an under at anything better than 59.5.
Nick Saban is dominant in season openers. Alabama in the last five seasons has outscored opponents 41.0 to 9.8. Those were no cakewalks as they matched up against USC, Wisconsin, Louisville, and Missouri. Bama did that with three different quarterbacks who are all starting in the NFL, and Bryce Young has a ceiling higher than all of them.
It’s the same song and dance for this offense, which will replace a boatload of talent with four- and five-star recruits. Bama will replace Najee Harris with a stable of running backs sharing the load. John Metchie III is going to be a stud on the outside and tight end Jahleel Billingsley will be a matchup problem for Miami (if he’s in good standing with Saban). Bryce Young can sit in the pocket and pick apart defenses, but also has the savvy ability to scramble and make plays outside the pocket.
Alabama has scored 30 points or more in 24 straight games. They match up against a Hurricanes defense that allowed 42 points to Clemson, 41 to NC State, and 62 to North Carolina. In those three matchups the Canes allowed 8.5 YPPA and 7.1 YPC.
The Miami defense that allowed 5.9 yards per play is sacrificing size for speed with two of the three starting linebackers coming in weighing less than 212 lbs. That’s a recipe for disaster against the monstrous offensive line of the Crimson Tide.
I anticipate Bryce Young will put on a show in his first game and Alabama will run all over Miami at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Alabama scored a touchdown in 88.4% of the quarters it played last season. With the exception of the scoreless third quarter of the SEC Championship game against Florida, the other five touchdown-less quarters can all be attributed to disinterest.
I believe that Miami will hang around in the two to three touchdown range throughout this game, keeping the Crimson Tide interested for four quarters.
Then there’s Saban’s track record with new starting quarterbacks at Alabama to consider. Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones all led Alabama to touchdowns in all four quarters of their first starts, respectively.
Miami does return five defensive starters and imported some interesting talent through the transfer portal, but this was a mediocre defense statistically last season. The Canes finished 65th against the pass, and gave up 145 points to Clemson, NC State and North Carolina.
These odds have been boosted from +150 to +200, which tipped the scales for me.
It’s no surprise that Alabama opens up the season as the No. 1 ranked team in the country, as a matter of fact, Alabama has been ranked No. 1 at least one time in each of the last 13 seasons.
This speaks to head coach Nick Saban’s ability to recruit, develop and deploy talent. That’s not going to stop this year either. Miami has improved in recent years, but there is still a large talent gap between the two programs. Miami is going to have a tough time keeping this one close.
New QB Bryce Young will be teaming up with new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien as he gets his first real dose of power five football. Brian Robinson Jr. takes over as the lead back after rushing for 483 yards and 6 touchdowns last season as a backup to first-rounder Najee Harris.
The talent is there in the skill positions for the ‘Bama offense to assert its dominance. The Crimson Tide defense will continue to be a stalwart, with a front seven that could be the best in nation.
The Miami offense was thrown into overdrive last season by QB D’Eriq King. He is back this season and should be just as electric, but is coming off of a knee injury in the 2020 bowl game. The Hurricanes have talent to support King, but they did last season and still got thumped by Clemson and North Carolina. HC Manny Diaz takes over playing calling duties for the Hurricane defense after finishing 67th in FBS total defense last year.
I am not crazy about the line or the total for this game. I think they are right on given historical precedent and the lack of film on Bryce Young. At the time of writing, I am seeing ‘Bama -20 at some books and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it at -21 or higher by kickoff. That is a lot of points and my model does not back that up, projecting the Crimson Tide as 14.3-point favorites and 62.4 points to be scored between the two.
Instead, I am going to recommend a one unit alternative spread and total bet of Alabama -3.5 and over 50.5 points at -190. This is a lower beta way to get some action on this game.