We end our Big 10 Football Q & A sessions today with a gambling related question. Advising us who to bet on in the Alabama v Michigan game are Joe Beale of Eleven Warriors, Kevin McGuire of the Nittany Lions Den, Eric Cooper of Buckeye House Call, Andrew Coppens of MadTown Badgers, Ryan Aylsworth of Midnight Maize and from The Saturday Edge, Maggiore.
Question # 4: Who to bet on? Alabama lost 9 players from the number # 1 defense in the nation, including 3 first round draft choices. Can they cover an 11 point spread against Michigan and their dynamic playmaker at QB, Denard Robinson?
Joe Beale - Eleven Warriors: Alabama is a defensive team, and so covering a big spread against a potential top-10 team will be tough. I’m going to say no, just because I think Michigan will keep it close for the entire game. I think in the end the Tide will prevail, just not by 11.
Kevin McGuire - Nittany Lions Den: There is one thing you need to know about Alabama when it comes to losing players. Nick Saban does not rebuild, he reloads. That will be what happens with Alabama’s defense in 2012 after the losses from last season’s championship squad. The good news is Alabama may have lost a lot of starters but they have been fortunate to be in positions in which backups can get some playing time and develop an idea for how the defensive schemes play on the field.
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And when you give Saban eight months to prepare for a single game, because you know he has been spreading his preparation out since the BCS Championship Game, there are not many coaches who will be able to counteract what Saban has up his sleeve.
I think Alabama as an 11-point favorite is too high, so I would say go with the under now while you can, and even though I feel Alabama will win this season opener I don’t think even a masterful game plan by Saban will be enough to cover the spread.
Eric Cooper - Buckeye House Call: Brady Hoke and TSUN are going to have their hands full with the defending NC’s, and we will see how good of a “Quarterback” Robinson really is. Nick Saban hasn’t gotten to this point to lose a game to a wide receiver who just happens to play quarterback. My pick is Bama a lot to a little.
Andrew Coppens - MadTown Badgers: Who to bet on? Man this is a hard one to answer because there are so many moving parts to this first game. Robinson is a QB unlike anything Alabama has seen and that includes Cam Newton. For Michigan the question is was last year a fluke on the defensive side of the ball or a sign of things to come. Add in an Alabama team that only has 4 returning starters and I think you see an easy way this game stays within 11 points. I look for this to be a game within a TD or so late and Michigan covers the spread.
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Ryan Aylsworth - Midnight Maize: Bama has depth and talent. They reload. They have recruited exceptionally well over the past several years. I am glad that Michigan plays them first. So all those new bodies will be in their first big game which can lead to mistakes. I still give the edge to Bama since they have all the depth and talent. I expect them to test Michigan’s new defensive line and run straight at them.
As for Denard, he may struggle just because of the new WR core and I just don’t think there is much talent on the outside to throw too. Michigan’s best chance is if Denard and Fitzgerald Toussaint can run wild on Bama. That will be Michigan’s bread and butter all year so they will need to have great success with running the ball vs Bama if they plan on winning or making it a close game.
Maggiore - The Saturday Edge: Who to bet on? According to this depth chart, of the 7 guys that weren’t listed as starters last year, two are highly touted JUCO’s, two are 5 star players, and three are 4 star players. There are 5 Under Armour All-Americans in that group. While there will be a loss of experience for Alabama, there shouldn’t be much of a drop off in talent.
Nick Saban is arguably the best coach in the country and giving him this much time to prepare for Michigan and Denard Robinson, I don’t see myself taking the points with Michigan here. Michigan was stout on defense last year, but losing standout tackle Mike Martin, among others, up front will hurt against Barrett Jones, Eddie Lacy and a very good Crimson Tide running game.
The Wolverines can hang if Robinson can find a receiver to make some plays through the air, but unless this spread goes to 14 (it is now down to 10.5) or more, my money will be on the Tide.
That is it for our Big 10 football Q & A sessions. I would like to thank Joe, Kevin, Eric, Andrew, Ryan and Maggiore for their participation. I hope they helped you determine who to bet on. Next week we will be starting our PAC 12 Conference Conversations. Please leave any thoughts or questions in the comment section below. Thank you – Pez.