Last Updated: 2017-03-06
This week’s game between the No. 20 University of Wisconsin Badgers (0-0) and the No. 3 University of Alabama Crimson Tide (0-0) promises to be a pivotal matchup. Players will take the field Saturday, Sep 5 at 7:00 p.m. ET and the game will air on ABC.
In order for the Tide to roll, they’re going to need to figure out a lot of things on offense. The litany of five-star recruits on the offensive line and at running back still need somebody to direct traffic under center. Who will stand out? The hope was for Florida State transfer Jake Coker to be the guy, but he was beaten out by Blake Sims last season and couldn’t win the job outright this season. Cooper Bateman and Alec Morris join Coker on the depth chart and all of them may see some work in this game. The gameplan could center a lot on Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake and that could play right into Wisconsin’s hands.
On the other side of the ball, there’s rarely a whole lot to worry about. Kirby Smart’s defense is perennially one of the best. There are some kid losses this season, as Xzavier Dickson, arguably the top pass rusher, and Landon Collins have moved on to the next level. There is a hierarchy at Alabama, but there are nine freshmen on the two-deep per Alabama’s first depth chart, so it will be very fascinating to see if the Tide roll with some younger players in this one. The one thing that is for certain is that Wisconsin will not be able to match Alabama’s team speed.
Gary Andersen is gone, replaced by former offensive coordinator Paul Chryst. Andersen had issues with the administration and their recruiting requirements, but it’s not like he left the cupboard bare for Chryst. Melvin Gordon is gone, taking over 2,500 yards and 29 touchdowns with him. Corey Clement is still a Badger and will be the focal point of the offense. Joel Stave, paralyzed by a case of the “yips” last season, threw more interceptions than touchdowns and completed only 53.4 percent of his passes. The Alabama defense would give a lot of guys the yips, so it’ll be interesting to see how he responds to pressure.
On defense, the Badgers were good last season, holding opponents below 21 points per game. Six starters return from last season’s defense and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda stayed around after Andersen left. The front seven for Wisconsin is very inexperienced, but the secondary has a lot of snaps under its belt. Michael Caputo led the team in tackles and is one of three seniors that will play prominent roles in the secondary. Wisconsin gave up 31 points to Auburn and 59 points to Ohio State, the two best offenses that they played last season. Can they hold up against Alabama?
The Crimson Tide, a 10-point favorite, will be looking to defend their home field when Wisconsin visits. The Over/Under (O/U) for the matchup is 55 points.
Predictions: SU Winner – Ala, ATS Winner – Wisc, O/U – Over
Wisconsin is 8-1 SU in its last 9 games.
Alabama is 8-1 SU in its last 9 games.