The Alabama Crimson Tide have yet to make a decision on a No. 1 quarterback just days before their season opener, which provides the West Virginia Mountaineers an edge in the early going Saturday at the Georgia Dome.
In Need of a Turnaround
West Virginia is looking to bounce back from its first losing season since 2001, as it went 4-8 in head coach Dana Holgorsen’s third year in Morgantown, but the drop off was expected by many due to numerous departures to the NFL.
The Mountaineers must improve on the defensive end to stay within this number, which is important to consider when looking over the college football odds, as they ranked ninth in the Big 12 Conference in allowing 455 yards per game in 2013.
Over the last two-plus seasons, the program is 8-16 against the spread, with the UNDER going 14-11.
An Angry Bunch
Alabama will look to get back in the win column after dropping its last two games of the 2013-14 campaign, including a 45-31 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners as 15-point favorites in the Sugar Bowl.
The Crimson Tide have won all seven of their season openers under head coach Nick Saban, which can’t be ignored when making your college football picks, especially since they’ve outscored foes by a 291-74 combined margin in those affairs.
It’s also important to point out that the squad is 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS when playing at the Georgia Dome since 2009.
Tempo, Tempo, Tempo
West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett will want to operate quickly throughout this matchup, as teams that averaged 26 seconds per snap or less are 3-6 against Alabama over the last two seasons, which is far better than opponents losing all 18 games when failing to accomplish that task against them.
The Mountaineers return 31 players on offense with starting experience—resulting in the group having 144 more career player games played on this side of the ball in 2014 than it did a year ago.
The most talked about quarterback competition in the country is taking place in Tuscaloosa, as Saban released a depth chart with Jake Coker and Blake Sims occupying the top spot.
It’s likely that the duo will switch off every quarter in the opener, and perhaps the first three games, as Alabama will likely be unchallenged until hosting the Florida Gators in Week 4.
Whoever ends up winning the job will have perhaps the most talented set of skill players in the country surrounding him.
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Mountaineers in the first half as one of their Week 1 college football picks, as they’ll dictate the pace early on offense, while their defense should provide some early resistance to a Crimson Tide unit that’s beginning anew without AJ McCarron.
First-half lines will likely be established on Wednesday or Thursday—I'm expecting West Virginia to be in the neighborhood of +14.
College Football Pick: West Virginia Mountaineers First Half (When Available)