The #1 Alabama Crimson Tide and #14 Miami Hurricanes get together for a top-ranked showdown in the 2021 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Alabama is the defending national champions and the favorite to win the title again this season. After an 8-3 mark last season, Miami looks to improve after a pair of lopsided losses to conference foes Clemson and North Carolina.
Saturday’s kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. EST inside the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Atlanta, GA. According to oddsmakers, the Crimson Tide are 19.5-point favorites in the neutral site opener, and the total point over/under is 61.
What to Know – Alabama Crimson Tide
Business as usual for the Alabama Crimson Tide, who find themselves atop the college football landscape to start the season. The 69-year old Nick Saban enters his 15th season as head coach in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama replaced Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith and the quarterback that got him the ball, Mac Jones. Star running back Najee Harris has departed, along with key pieces to the offensive line and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. While key players have moved on, the Crimson Tide reloads with another group of blue-chip prospects waiting in the wings.
Starting quarterback Bryce Young saw limited action last season but is already a preseason Heisman candidate. Senior running back Brian Robinson Jr. backed up Harris last year and will step into the starting role in 2021. Robinson carried the ball 91 times for 483 yards and six touchdowns last season.
Junior wide receiver John Metchie III headlines a group of talented pass catchers. Metchie hauled in 55 receptions for 916 yards and six touchdowns last year after Jaylen Waddle went down with an injury.
What to Know – Miami Hurricanes
The Miami Hurricanes got great news this offseason when graduate transfer quarterback D’Eriq King elected to return to Coral Gables for an extra season. The announcement gives head coach Manny Diaz a veteran signal-caller with over 7,611 yards passing and 1,959 yards on the ground. Miami was projected to finish second in the ACC Coastal Division.
The top four rushers for the Hurricanes are back, led by senior running back Cam’Ron Harris. Leading receiver Mike Hartey returns after catching 57 passes for 799 yards and seven touchdowns in 2020. Miami bolstered their receiving corps in the offseason with the addition of transfer Charleston Rambo from Oklahoma.
Miami a majority of its two-deep from last year’s defense that allowed 27 points per game. The Hurricanes used the transfer portal to strengthen its defense with defensive lineman Dandre Johnson (Tennessee) and defensive back Tyrique Stevenson (Georgia).
The Pick is In
There are many unknowns surrounding Alabama’s offense, but what is known is that Saban will have a plan in place for the new crop of playmakers to be successful. It might take Alabama a few series on offense before things start firing on all cylinders, but the Crimson Tide will eventually take control of the game.
If Miami wants to win this game, they will need to create turnovers on defense and put some sustained drives together that keep the Alabama offense on the sideline. The Alabama defense was suspect last season, so Miami’s up-tempo style could expose them.
This game will be close in the first half, but the talent and depth of the Crimson Tide eventually help Alabama pull away and win this opener comfortably.
The Pick: Alabama Crimson Tide -19.5