The No. 5 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (9-1) will host the Western Carolina Catamounts (3-8) at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa on Saturday.
After losing starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to a season-ending hip injury last week, Alabama will be led by backup quarterback Mac Jones. This could prove to be a very favorable matchup for Jones, although the pressure will be on. The Tide need to win out and get help in order to have a shot at the playoffs.
Here’s a look at both teams leading up to the game, followed by trends and our prediction.
The Tide will likely lean heavily on Najee Harris in this game in order to ease Jones into his starting role. Harris, who has 876 yards on 144 attempts (6.1 yards per carry) and nine touchdowns this season, should have ample opportunities to shine against this Western Carolina defense.
Jones went 7-11 for 94 yards with no scores and no interceptions in relief of Tagovailoa last week against Mississippi State. On the season, Jones has 566 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. The offense will certainly miss Tagovailoa, but Jones will still have loads of weapons.
Senior quarterback Tyrie Adams, who has 1,587 yards passing, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions on the season, will likely rely on his rushing attack, led by Junior running back Donnavan Spencer. Spencer has been one of the Catamounts’ primary threats on offense. He has five total touchdowns on the season, and he has two 100-yard rushing games along with one game of 100+ receiving yards. Adams is also a rushing threat at the quarterback position, gaining 409 yards on the ground while scoring five touchdowns.
On defense, the Catamounts are allowing 425 yards and just over 36 points a game, which doesn’t bode well for them against this dynamic Alabama offense. Western Carolina’s run defense will likely get particularly exploited. The Catamounts are allowing a whopping 261 yards rushing per game, and Nick Saban and Company will certainly look to exploit that.
Trends, Pick and Prediction:
Spread: Western Carolina + 57
Odds Shark currently have the Crimson Tide winning and covering the spread by a projected score of 68-0, with the total score predicted to go over.
The following trends surrounding the game are courtesy of Odds Shark:
• The total has gone OVER in 8 of Western Carolina’s last 12 games.
• Western Carolina is 0-10 SU in their last 10 games.
• Western Carolina is 0-10 SU in their last 10 games on the road.
• Western Carolina is 0-10 SU in their last 10 games against an opponent in the Southeast conference.
• Alabama is 9-1 SU in their last 10 games.
• The Crimson Tide are 10-0 SU in their last 10 games at home.
• Alabama is 4-1 SU in their last 5 games this season.
• The Tide are 4-2 ATS in their last 6 games played in November.
The Tide should have their way with the Catamounts, and the game won’t be close. We think it’ll be just a bit lower scoring than Odds Shark, however. And we’re leaning towards a total score that is slightly under 61 points.
Final Prediction: Alabama 54, Western Carolina 3
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