#10 Alabama makes a rare appearance on the road in a non-conference game this Saturday, traveling to face USF. Here are some Alabama vs. USF predictions and best bets, including our best bet: Alabama’s spread (-32).
Alabama vs. USF Prediction & Best Bet
This is an uncharacteristic Alabama team, but all indications are that USF won’t be able to take advantage of one of the major differences between this team and more dominant ones.
The Bulls’ pass defense is coming off an awful year, and it didn’t look too much better in the season opener against Western Kentucky. While 3 INTs against an FCS school is better than nothing for USF’s defense, Jalen Milroe showed in Week 1 that he’s still many levels above what most Group of Five defenses can handle – particularly when accounting for his rushing ability.
Alabama notched a 49-point win over Middle Tennessee in Week 1, only for Middle Tennessee to go and give Missouri a competitive game the following week. Even a flawed Alabama team is still in a different stratosphere than a rebuilding USF, and the Tide should have enough in the tank offensively (plus plenty of motivation after last week’s loss) to run up the score.
Alabama vs. USF Prediction & Best Bet: Alabama -32
Alabama vs. USF Betting Odds
Alabama is a commanding 32-point road favorite over USF, with the over/under at 61.5 points. The Tide don’t often go on the road for a non-conference game, but this line tells you all you need to know about why they’re willing to play this one. Will a weaker Alabama team still be able to cover a 32-point spread?
Alabama vs. USF Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Saturday’s game between Alabama and USF.
USF Running Game vs. Alabama Run Defense
If USF wants to have any chance to keep this game competitive, the running game is going to need to show up. The Bulls had a shocking 374 rushing yards in their season opener to Western Kentucky, though they couldn’t capitalize on all the yardage and were limited to 24 points. QB Byrum Brown ran for 160 yards himself, while Nay’Quan Wright had 111 yards on 17 carries.
Last week, in a win over FCS Florida A&M, Brown had just 23 yards on 17 rushing attempts. He was much better through the air, but the best and perhaps only way to confuse a well-prepared Alabama defense might be to have Brown prove he can do damage in both facets of the game.
Jalen Milroe vs. USF Secondary
The downfield plays we saw from Alabama during the Bryce Young era (and earlier) just weren’t there in the Tide’s loss to Texas. Jalen Milroe was able to make some things happen downfield, but a combination of missed throws and the lack of a standout receiver like Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith didn’t make Alabama such a big-play threat. This game against USF could be an opportunity to turn that around.
The Bulls have allowed 330+ yards through the air in each of their first two games. While they did manage to earn 3 INTs against Florida A&M, it’s tough to overreact to any numbers posted against an FCS team. USF allowed a 73.3 completion rate and 282 passing yards per game during last year’s 1-11 season. If the Bulls can’t take advantage of an Alabama QB still trying to find his way, this game won’t be close.