No. 1 Alabama opens the 2021 season in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game against No. 14 Miami on Saturday.
Game time is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The game will be televised on ABC.
Alabama is the defending national champion, and Nick Saban will try to lead yet another national championship run with a new supporting offensive cast. Bryce Young is the new quarterback, and he will be working with new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. The Crimson Tide have a loaded defense that should benefit from the addition of Tennessee transfer Henry To’o To’o.
Miami has been an early player in the NIL era, and quarterback D’Eriq King is back after suffering a torn ACL in the Cheez-It Bowl. The Hurricanes have improved under third-year coach Manny Diaz, and this is yet another chance to prove it on the national stage.
Here’s everything to know about betting on the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game.
Alabama vs. Miami odds
- Spread: Alabama -18.5
- Over/under: 62.5
- Moneyline: Alabama -1000, Miami +620
Three trends to know
— Alabama is 10-0 in neutral-site openers under coach Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide have won those games by an average of 26.7 points per game. That includes six ACC opponents.
— Alabama was 16-10 ATS the last two seasons with Steve Sarkisian as offensive coordinator. That included a 3-2 ATS mark in neutral-site games.
— Miami is 4-2 ATS as an underdog the last two seasons with Diaz. The Hurricanes are 3-4 ATS in non-conference games in the same stretch.
Three things to watch
— Bryce Young and D’Eriq King. Young and King have taken advantage of early NIL opportunities, but this is the true big stage to cash in on.
Young is making his first start, and it will be intriguing to see how O’Brien calls the first half. Will Alabama opt for a run-heavy attack with Brian Robinson and Jase McLellan to allow Young to settle in? How much of a factor will Young be in the running game?
For King, it’s a matter of showing he’s recovered from ACL surgery and testing Alabama’s linebacker trio of To’o To’o, Christian Harris and Will Anderson Jr. The Crimson Tide limited opponents to 3.3 yards per rushing attempt last season. King will need to be a factor in the running game.
— Can Cam’Ron Harris get going? Harris had 268 rushing yards and four TDs in Miami’s first two games last season and is the work-horse in offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee’s attack. Harris, however, averaged just 24 carries for 79 yards in the Hurricanes’ three losses last season. He needs to be productive early to allow rushing lanes for King, and that will be a test against that Alabama front seven.
— Alabama’s new-look receivers. First-round picks DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle are gone, and that means it is time for John Metchie III to step up as the Crimson Tide’s lead receiver. Ohio State transfer Jameson Williams and slot receiver Slade Bolden are key pieces in the passing attack, too, and Young will have to read Miami safety Bubba Bolden, a potential first-round pick. Can the Hurricanes keep this new group of receivers in check?
Stat that matters
Alabama jumped on opponents last year. The Crimson Tide outscored opponents 153-44 in the first quarter, and that ballooned to 229-92 in the second quarter. That has been the trend in neutral-site openers, too.
In order for Miami to make it a four-quarter game, they have to take Alabama’s first attack and survive the first half. With a first-time starting quarterback in Young, that’s Miami’s best bet.
Alabama vs. Miami prediction
Can Miami generate a pass rush from the front four? That’s going to be the key against Young, who can extend plays outside the pocket. Miami linebacker Brandon Jennings Jr. is a top returner who had three sacks last season, and the Hurricanes need to force at least three turnovers to have a chance.
Alabama will be able to lean on its offensive line to establish a run, and O’Brien will mix in enough deep shots early to keep the Hurricanes off balance. The Crimson Tide throws the knockout punch in the third quarter and rolls to its first victory of the season.
Final score: Alabama 41, Miami 20