The Alabama Crimson Tide got a bit of a scare last week in their season opener and will look for a better performance when they host the Florida Atlantic Owls in their first home game.
Alabama failed to cover the spread as a 22-point favorite in a 33-23 win over West Virginia at the Georgia Dome last week, while Florida Atlantic saw its four-game winning streak end in a 55-7 loss to Nebraska.
Point spread: The Crimson Tide opened as 39-point favorites; the total was 50.5 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).
Odds Shark computer prediction: 36.5-3.0 Crimson Tide
Why the Florida Atlantic Owls can cover the spread
The Owls finished last season strong, going 4-0 straight up and 3-1 against the spread. They have also been an outstanding road team over the last few seasons, with a 12-2 mark in their past 14 games away from home.
One of those losses against the number obviously came last week, and Florida Atlantic made it through the entire 2013 season without failing to cover consecutive games, with a 9-3 ATS mark overall in 2013.
The Crimson Tide are also breaking in a new quarterback, senior Blake Sims, who was solid but did not do anything special in the victory against the Mountaineers, throwing for 250 yards with one interception and no touchdowns.
Alabama has covered just three times in 10 recent games when favored by four TDs or more, according to the database at Odds Shark.
Why the Alabama Crimson Tide can cover the spread
Alabama does not need to count on the arm of Sims to win games. Instead, the Tide just need to run the ball like they did against the Mountaineers, totalling 288 rushing yards on 49 carries.
Junior running back T.J Yeldon is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate who is looking for his third straight 1,000-yard season, and he got off to a good start with 126 yards and two touchdowns versus West Virginia.
Sophomore running back Derrick Henry also had 113 yards and one TD on the ground, giving Alabama a solid one-two punch yet again that can steamroll opponents late in games.
The Owls surrendered 498 rushing yards to the Cornhuskers last week and will likely face a similar struggle in trying to contain Yeldon and Henry.
Do not sleep on the Tide. Just because they failed to roll over the Mountaineers does not mean they are not capable of returning to form at any time.
Alabama is 4-1 ATS in its last five home games and remains a very dangerous team, probably best compared to a sleeping giant fully capable of destroying the opposition and making everybody forget what happened last week.
Sims will only become more comfortable running the offense, and running is exactly what his team needs to do in order to be successful.
It will also help him greatly to have the support of the home crowd backing him, giving him more confidence as he looks for a breakout performance.
- Florida Atlantic is 17-6 ATS in its last 23 games overall.
- Alabama is only 3-7 ATS the last 10 times when favored by four touchdowns or more.
All point-spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury updates and line-move updates, and get the free odds tracker app.