Will Alabama football be able to cover the lofty 27.5 point spread against Missouri? Here’s what the numbers say.
Last season I began predicting college football games against the spread using a predictive model I created. No bias, just raw numbers in, and predictions out. That is the way I wanted it. Simple, but effective. With Alabama football kicking off against the Missouri Tigers I thought it would be a good time to revisit this formula.
Last season was a bit rocky at times, but the formula ended up prevailing more often than not. In the 120 games I used the model, it was right 83 times. That is almost 70 percent of games. Tua would be proud with that type of accuracy.
It is difficult for any math-based model to accurately predict games early in the season because there are no stats to base anything on. So, take these early-season predictions with a grain of salt. For Week One against Missouri, I am using last year’s stats for both teams, but I have adjusted based on my own opinions of how new players will affect a team’s performance either positively or negatively.
The big thing with early-season games is experience and Alabama football has a slight edge over Missouri. On the offensive side of the ball, it is no contest. Alabama returns four starting OLs compared to Missouri’s two. Alabama brings back two experienced WRs (both are Biletnikoff candidates), the starting QB for the final part of the season, and the top two RBs (Najee and B-Rob) from 2019. Missouri has none of that.
Defense is about even in the experience category. Alabama and Missouri both lost a lot of talent in the secondary but return a lot of talent in the front seven. This will help Missouri early, but as the defense wears down, the depth of the Crimson Tide will help them prevail.
What does all this mean for the spread?
Alabama returns a deadly offense with a good QB, two great WRs, and a stable of RBs the likes of which college football has never seen before. All of this protected by one of the best OLines Nick Saban has had at Alabama. The domination will be different than the past couple of years, but it will still be a dominant unit.
The defense is young, yes, but that doesn’t mean as much when they will be facing an inexperienced OLine, new QB, and new head coach, play-caller. These young freshmen pass rushers are going to be hungry and I expect them to feast on Missouri.
The numbers bare this all out. After accounting for everything I can possibly account for, the numbers say that Alabama will cover the 27.5 point spread. The only problem with my model is that it only provides a final spread. It doesn’t give any context to roll with, and that just isn’t as fun. So, I’m forced to add the context myself.
Alabama football struggles to run the ball early against the strong DLine of Mizzou. Mac Jones makes some tough throws in the first half and Jaylen Waddle has a couple of big plays in 1-on-1 coverage to give Alabama a 17-3 lead at halftime. Missouri’s defense keeps them in it early in the second half, but the continuous pounding of Najee and B-Rob softens them up.
This helps Najee get over 100 yards rushing with two TDs. Alabama bettors will be concerned halfway through the fourth quarter as Alabama has not covered and they are starting to shut it down with the game solidly in hand 34-10. They breathe a sigh of relief though when a late touchdown run by Trey Sanders gives Alabama the win and the cover. Oh, and Will Reichard goes 2-2 on FGs and 5-5 on XPs.
If you want to see the other side of the argument on why Alabama will not cover the spread, click the link above. Keep an eye out here all season long for more of my math-based spread predictions for Alabama football and maybe some other big SEC games.