Game Time: Saturday, September 29th, Noon ET/11 a.m. local
Radio: Alabama Crimson Tide Sports Network || Ragin’ Cajuns Radio Network
Odds: Alabama (-49), -28392 (Alabama Moneyline), +75000 (Louisiana Moneyline), 68.5 (O/U)
Anyone looking to find some possible storylines for Saturday’s game between Alabama and Louisiana can probably start with the comically large opening spread. On Sunday, Vegas opened with the Cajuns as a 53 1⁄2-point dog, which, to me, is just asking an angry fanbase to find fault with the Tide’s performance.
Not sure what got the line down to 49, but here we are. First year Louisiana head coach and former Tide wide receivers coach Billy Napier returns to Bryant-Denny with nary a shot to exit a winner. (Wouldn’t it be funny if, out of all the ex-Saban assistants, Billy’s the first to take down the old man? Think of all the Jimbo and Kirby trolling.)
The Ragin’ Cajuns (2-1) bring to Tuscaloosa a middle-of-the-road offense through its first three games, as they rank in the 60s in the FBS in scoring and total offense, but the real test for the team may be in where the defense currently ranks in both categories: 107th and 111th, respectively.
Right now, they’re allowing 470 yards and over 34 points per game, which against any Alabama offense would be tricky. With this Alabama offense, some may be watching the game peeking their hands. One shudders to think what Tua Tagovailoa will do to Louisiana in only a quarter-and-a-half of football. Truthfully, he may not even make it that far. I expect Jalen Hurts to come in well before halftime with the possibility of third-string redshirt freshman getting a shot to play most of the second half.
Of course, there’s always a chance that the Cajuns play way over their head and force the Tide to use their first string into the second half, but I just don’t see it happening.
Louisiana would be in trouble if this were a 4th-year head coach. With a completely new staff in place, it’s just the wrong time for a Group of 5 school to come into Tuscaloosa against an especially dominant Crimson Tide team.
One thing Saban and his offensive staff will probably like to see occur on Saturday will be more physical offensive line play. When asked about his o-line Thursday during his weekly radio show, Saban gave an impassioned and colorful answer to why the running game was slowed last week against the Aggies.
Saban’s basically in a “Catch 22” situation where success in the passing game and not enough in the running or vice versa makes Tide fans wildly uneasy. It’s easy to understand, though, when you have Damien Harris, Najee Harris and Josh Jacobs in your backfield. No matter the opponent, how can you only gain 109 yards with those guys? If the line doesn’t get a push against Louisiana, you may see some personnel changes going forward, especially in the interior part.
Nevertheless, this game may be over before it starts, though you never know. Saban will slam on the breaks before the first half ends, but the Tide will have their fourth 50-plus-point game of the season when it’s all said and done.
Prediction: Alabama 55 Louisiana 10