#1 Alabama travels to face Steve Sarkisian and unranked Texas in a battle between historic programs. Nick Saban’s squad enters this game on a high note after a dominating 55-0 victory over unranked Utah State. Bryce Young stole the show with six touchdowns and a 63 yard run.
Texas dispatched UL-Monroe 52-10, but they fell from #22 to unranked. It’s ultimately irrelevant though, as a win against Alabama would instantly vault Texas to the top of the standings. Unfortunately for Sarkisian, Saban owns a 25-1 record against his former assistants with the sole loss coming against Kirby Smart in last year’s national championship.
Can Sarkisian defeat his former boss? Texas’ odds are found below, as well as picks and predictions.
Alabama vs. Texas Odds
Although Texas may believe they are back, the spread has currently settled around +20 Texas with a +900 moneyline. It’s already risen from +17 Texas and may continue to balloon even further. The over under is one of the larger marks this week due to Alabama’s explosive offense. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young is a huge factor behind this sizable line.
Alabama vs. Texas Prediction & Pick
Texas isn’t receiving enough help, as Alabama will trounce them by at least 24 points. Therefore, backing Alabama to cover is the best bet for this game.
Texas severely struggled with their run defense last season, and those problems still plague them. Alabama’s sturdy offensive line and talented running backs will run over Texas if they don’t continuously station linebackers near the defensive line. However, Alabama possesses the weapons to exploit this strategy and force Texas to pick their poison.
RB Jahmyr Gibbs and Jase McClellan are pass-catching threats who can slip to the flat and punish absent linebackers. True freshman WR Kobe Prentice only stands 5’10”, but he displayed elite lateral quickness against Utah State. They were using him in screens and short throws to simply get the football in his hands and watch him force missed tackles. Although I don’t believe he has the same ceiling, Prentice reminds me of Jaylen Waddle when he was a freshman. Look for Alabama to use screens and jet sweeps to stretch out this Texas defense.
With Texas fighting for their lives at the line of scrimmage, their secondary will often be trusted to hold up in isolation against receivers. It’s a strength of this defense, as D’Shawn Jamison and Ryan Watts form a stingy duo. However, I don’t believe they will be able to contain Alabama’s passing offense in the slightest.
Bryce Young is the premier quarterback in the nation because he combines pinpoint accuracy with elite pocket awareness. Whether it’s a short slant or a contested go route, Young will place the ball where only the receiver can make a play on it. He owns a plethora of downfield weapons in Burton, Holden, and Brooks. Red zone threat TE Cam Latu may be available too, which would elevate this offense to a higher level.
Defensively, Alabama poses a serious threat to Texas. Quinn Ewers is an inexperienced quarterback who must navigate Alabama’s secondary with exceptional pass rusher Will Anderson in his face the entire game. Texas must run the ball effectively to take pressure off of Ewers, but Alabama’s mammoth defensive line routinely snuffs out the opponent’s rushing attack. Texas simply doesn’t match up well here on both sides of the ball, so a blowout is probable.
Alabama vs. Texas Key Matchups
It’s critical for Texas to win these three matchups to keep this one within striking distance. Otherwise, an Alabama cover may be imminent.
Bijan Robinson vs Alabama front seven
Establishing the run will help Ewers avoid 3rd and longs, and it starts with Bijan Robinson. He’s the best running back in the nation due to his phenomenal change of direction and sharp vision. Because Texas’ offensive line may be overpowered by Alabama, Bijan likely must consistently create something out of nothing. If Bijan is ineffective in this game, then Texas has no chance of keeping pace with Bryce Young.
“This kid may be the best player in the sport. This kid is big time.”
BIJAN ROBINSON, WHAT A RUN 😳 pic.twitter.com/oxWpxlfplT
— ESPN (@espn) October 9, 2021
Jahmyr Gibbs vs Texas front seven
Texas’ weak run defense means Gibbs can cause serious damage and keep Alabama’s offense on the field. He’s a shifty back who finds interior holes while also stretching the defense horizontally. If Gibbs gashes Texas, then they must load the box because Alabama will run the ball from end zone to end zone given the opportunity. This adjustment will allow Alabama’s receivers to go one on one more frequently.
Texas red zone defense
With the amount of talent Alabama possesses, Texas is going to give up plenty of yards. However, they are not doomed if they control the end result. Texas’ offense has a chance to keep pace if the defense can force Alabama to frequently settle for field goals instead of touchdowns. They only allowed 29 touchdowns in 51 opponent red zone attempts last season, so there is hope that they somewhat succeed.