Staff Predictions: Alabama Takes on USC in Arlington, TX
The 2016 season has officially begun. Alabama and USC will do battle on Saturday in an epic SEC/Pac-12 showdown, so what does our staff think about this helmet match-up?
There were some great battles between these two programs in the 1970's, but the USC Trojans haven't played Alabama since the 1985 Aloha Bowl, in which the Tide won 24-3, and they haven't even played an SEC team in ten years. Will this match-up fare differently for the men of Troy by knocking Alabama off their college football perch, or will the Tide move one game closer to winning its 17th national championship? Our staff have spoken.
Martin Houston, Host of The Morning Blitz
Well football 2016 is upon us and the much anticipated wait has just a few more hours until we all know who the starting QB is for Bama. Despite not having an established, can't miss guy, Saban has managed to win two SEC Title and his fourth national title in seven years. So does it matter who the QB is, or will this be just another run at a title? I'm going with a yes on both of these. Look for the Bateman/Barnett duo to put up big numbers on the legs of Ridley, Stewart, Howard & company. Also look for a running game to be surprisingly effective, behind a big, talented and physical revamped OL. Of course, this offensive performance will be set up behind the play of what may be Saban's most talented and athletic defense in his 10 year tenure. With a total team effort Alabama gets off to a great start defending their title with a resounding victory over the USC Trojans. Alabama 27, USC 13
Gary Harris, Host of The Gary Harris Show
USC and Alabama are both college football "Blue Bloods." I love matchups between traditional powers. USC will soon return to the elite status that it has enjoyed in the past...But the Trojans aren't there yet! Alabama is! Alabama 31, USC 17
Barry Sanderson, Co-Host of Inside the Locker Room
I look for Bama to play a great defensive game. They will take reigns off the offense in 2nd half and beat USC over the top. Alabama 27 USC 10
Wimp Sanderson, Co-Host of Inside the Locker Room
I look for Bama to be very conservative with its play calling and rely on the defense. Look for the defense to create points late in game with Bama pulling away at the end. Alabama 26 USC 3
Aaron Suttles, Host of The Suttles Approach
It's less about Alabama's passing and more about the running game. How well the newly-revamped offensive line and inexperienced back come together will be far more telling than how many quarterbacks play. Alabama 24, Southern Cal 13
Travis Reier, Host of Southern Fried Sports
It's no revelation that both teams will look to lean on their big offensive lines and running backs in an attempt to make life easier for new starters at quarterback. And I think both will have some success in doing so. with that, the defensive front sevens will go a long way in determining Saturday's winner. The difference? Alabama lost a couple of key pieces from last season's front. USC must replace even more. It may take the better part of four quarters, but Alabama's running game will win out. Alabama 27, USC 16
Ryan Fowler, Host of The Game
We have been talking about this match-up for several years and the game is finally here. Alabama is looking for a launching pad for the road to the 17th national title. This young and inexperienced team needs confidence for 2016 to be a success, no better way to obtain that confidence than going up against a top 20 team to start the season. This game, like most college games, goes to the line of scrimmage. Alabama has the advantage on both sides. USC’s starting LT for the last 34 games is not expected to start, which could lead to poor pass protection for new starting QB Max Browne. Alabama’s defense is elite and this will also be the difference in the game, if Lane Kiffin can find a way to pull a hat trick with offense production. Buy your tickets to Tampa. Alabama captures momentum and confidence. Alabama 24, USC 13.
James Hardy, Producer
In 2014, Blake Sims kick started the trend of Alabama starting a new quarterback in the season opener. In the game against West Virginia, Adam Griffith converted four crucial field goals to catapult the Crimson Tide to victory. With a new starter at quarterback, running back and center, Adam Griffith could be a difference maker in the game if the offense stalls inside the 30 yard line. Look for the defense to do their thing, but special teams will make the difference for Alabama. Alabama 23, USC 14
Ben George, Digital Managing Editor
It’s hard to believe that Alabama - without experience at quarterback or running back - is a double-digit favorite against a solid Southern Cal team. I’m more intrigued by the running back position than quarterback because it’s been years since Nick Saban didn’t have a proven runner. If the Crimson Tide struggles on the ground, can the quarterbacks pick up the slack? It wouldn’t surprise me to see USC ahead at halftime in a low-scoring game, but Alabama’s offensive and defensive lines should wear down the Trojans and help secure a victory. Alabama 24, USC 17
Ryan McMunn, Producer
Alabama starts their journey for number 17 on Saturday, but the 2016 expedition doesn't have the easiest start in the world. It won't be more difficult than trying to insert the word "squeegee" into a score prediction, but the Crimson Tide will embrace the challenge (it'll have to do Aaron). The Trojans have one of the best wide receivers in the nation in JuJu Smith-Schuster, plus a quarterback in Max Browne who has patiently waited for his chance to shine under head coach Clay Helton. Alabama should be able to run the ball effectively with Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris, and while the Trojans will hit a couple big plays, the Tide's clock management will ultimately win this game. Alabama 21 USC 10