Staff Predictions for Alabama vs. Middle Tennessee State
The University of Alabama's home football schedule begins with a contest against Middle Tennessee State on Saturday afternoon.
The Crimson Tide returns to Bryant-Denny Stadium after an impressive 35-17 win over Wisconsin in week one. Junior Derrick Henry led the way with 147 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
This week's matchup is one that Alabama fans might overlook a bit with a revenge game against Ole Miss coming next week, but the Blue Raiders rolled up 70 points and 605 yards of offense in its season opener. The defense this week will give them a much stiffer test, and oddsmakers think Alabama wins by five touchdowns.
So what do we think about the game? Here are our staff predictions:
Barry Sanderson (Host of Inside the Locker Room)
I believe this game will get out of hand early. The 2nd and 3rd team will be focused because Coach Saban wasn't pleased with those guys effort vs Wisconsin. Alabama 56, Middle Tennessee 10
Wimp Sanderson (Host of Inside the Locker Room)
I think Alabama's depth will be a huge factor in the game. Guys are still fighting for positions so I don't see a let down. Alabama 48, Middle Tennessee 3
Gary Harris (Host of The Gary Harris Show)
Clearly, Alabama is the better football team. Having said that, the Middle Tennessee offense is not to be taken lightly. 70 points and over 700 yards last week against Jackson State is an attention getter. Alabama wins going away, but the Blue Raiders will manage to score some points. Alabama 45, Middle Tennessee 17
Chris Stewart (Host of The Chris Stewart Show)
Alabama is a 36-point favorite, and Nick Saban has been warning both Tide players and fans not to look past MTSU. The team won't. In fact, I think they'll play well. But the Blue Raiders are pretty good, and will keep it respectable. Alabama 45, Middle Tennessee 17
Ryan Fowler (Host of The Game)
Alabama needs a challenge to get ready for Ole Miss. I am not saying MTSU has the fire power to beat Alabama, but their balanced attack on offense will challenge Alabama in some areas they can use experience. The secondary’s problem this past week was communication, and they will get a chance to prove themselves against a solid passing team with an uptempo style. Jake Coker needs to validate his performance against Wisconsin with a great showing vs MTSU. This is also a game Alabama can use to build some depth on both offense and defense and find out which players can be counted on later in the season. Alabama wins in the trenches. Alabama 48, Middle Tennessee 10.
Ryan McMunn (Producer)
This isn't much of a match-up, but MTSU can be a team that surprises you by how good they are, especially given their past. I'm not picking an upset, but with the betting line flirting around -34 for Alabama, I don't think they'll cover the spread. This is a great opportunity for Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin to get Coker/Bateman/Morris plenty of game atmosphere reps, and really practice the passing game. The Tide will be able to run at will, but I'll predict that true freshman Damien Harris gets the bulk of the action and leads the Tide running game, at least by the numbers. Alabama 42, Middle Tennessee 13
Trey Brooks (Producer)
Alabama will score early and often. Don't look for a stat-padding game for the running backs, as starters will be out early and most play-calling will be focused on letting the quarterbacks develop. The Blue Raiders will find the end zone, but when push comes to shove this one won't be a thriller. Alabama 42, Middle Tennessee 17
Kevin Connell (Contributor)
When a reporter noted during Nick Saban’s Monday press conference this week that Alabama was a “heavy favorite” against Middle Tennessee State (a 35-point spread has been the general consensus throughout the week), a light went off in the Alabama coach’s head and he erupted.
But is that because there is some concern that the Blue Raiders could pose a mild threat, or were Saban’s comments just coach speak about respecting all opponents? I’m leaning more toward the latter.
While Middle Tennessee State’s spread offense attack has shown it has some bite, it’s unlikely it can hang for 60 full minutes. The Crimson Tide will score big early, then coast down the stretch. Alabama 48, Middle Tennessee State 10
Ben George (Digital Managing Editor)
Alabama will get a completely different test on defense this week against this Middle Tennessee State team, which might cause a few problems. But this should be more about gaining experience and giving the offense a chance to continue growing. I'm most interested to see how the quarterback position performs after a solid opening week. We should also be able to see more of running back Damien Harris later in the game. Alabama 45, Middle Tennessee 10.