Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#371 Southern Miss vs.
#372 Alabama
Saturday, September 25, 2021 at 7:30pm EDT
Written by Jordy

The Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles are massive underdogs when heading to Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday afternoon to take on the No. 1-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. After surviving a run-in with the Florida Gators at The Swamp, the Crimson Tide hope to continue rolling against an overmatched Conference USA opponent. But even though Southern Mississippi is a massive underdog in this game, the spread being set at minus-45 points is pretty significant, even for Alabama. The Golden Eagles are coming off a 21-9 loss to Troy.

Back to losing for Southern Miss

After trampling Grambling at Hattiesburg, the Golden Eagles were the ones getting stepped on in last week’s game against Troy.

With Trey Lowe working his way through an injury, true freshman quarterback Ty Keyes had his chance to start and got gobbled up by a Trojans defense that feasted on sacks. The offensive line play was atrocious for the Golden Eagles, and it led to the young passer getting bounced around in the pocket like he was on the inside of a pinball machine. And now, they have to fight in the trenches against a Nick Saban-coached defense at Tuscaloosa.

Whew.

Southern Miss pounded the ball on the ground against Grambling until they were blue in the face, but none of that was possible against a more talented Troy defense. Imagine how difficult it’ll be against Alabama’s defense. Granted, the Crimson Tide aren’t as strong up front as they were in 2020, but they’re still a problem by SEC definition. Opposing teams are averaging only 3.63 yards per carry against them this season.

Keyes will have to throw because the Golden Eagles will likely fall behind early. But can he avoid the crippling turnovers that cost his team against Troy? That’s the biggest question mark heading into this game.

The one good thing going for Southern Miss is the fact that their defense has been stout in the trenches. They might not be able to win a fight with Alabama, but maybe they could make it interesting at times. They’re holding opponents to an average 46 rushing yards per game with 1.50 yards per carry. And they’re also averaging three sacks per game.

A scare at The Swamp for Alabama

The Crimson Tide got their first taste of adversity this season against the Florida Gators at The Swamp last week. But it was mission accomplished by quarterback Bryce Young and company as they edged their SEC rivals with a 31-29 victory.

Even though media outlets across the globe will nitpick the win, the Crimson Tide are still undefeated and the No.1-ranked team in the nation.

A win is a win.

They should use this week’s meeting with Southern Miss as an opportunity to grow for some of the tougher matches down the line. The defensive front for the Crimson Tide isn’t generating as much pressure against opposing quarterbacks. They only got Florida’s Emory Jones down once last Saturday.

If they don’t feast against the patchwork offensive line for the Golden Eagles, there will be some serious questions regarding the unit coming out of this game. Southern Miss gave up a ridiculous nine sacks to Troy last week. So Ty Keyes should sail to the top of the dining ticket in this one.

Young has been sensational in his first three games as a starter. You can talk about the 811 passing yards and 10 touchdowns, but his best statistic so far is the zero interceptions. Nothing pleases a head coach more than a young quarterback taking care of the football.

He’ll have plenty of opportunities to air it out against this Southern Miss defense, but I’m also sure Saban would like to see more from Alabama’s run game. They’re averaging the third-least rushing yards per game in the SEC this year after placing in fourth last season. The Golden Eagles are no pushover when it comes to run defense. So it’ll be an interesting test for running back Brian Robinson Jr. and the Alabama offensive line.

It’s important to note that Robinson is questionable to play in this game with a rib injury.

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Make no mistake, a rough afternoon is in store for true freshman quarterback Ty Keyes and the struggling Golden Eagles against an Alabama team that should make quick and easy work of them at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

But this spread is too lofty even for Alabama’s standards.

Coach Nick Saban isn’t looking to completely embarrass the Golden Eagles on Saturday. I can easily envision a scenario where the Crimson Tide get up early and start to coast a bit later in the game to preserve their roster. They had Mercer completely overmatched as well and finished that game with a 48-14 victory.

There’s also the fact that running back Brian Robinson is a bit banged up with a rib injury. Southern Miss has actually been formidable in slowing down the run game against opposing offenses. They have only yielded a total 138 rushing yards and two touchdowns in their first three games of the season.

Alabama is obviously a different animal looking to get their run game going, and they have other bodies behind Robinson to test out, including Trey Sanders. So I’m expecting a slow and methodical destruction of the Golden Eagles. Alabama isn’t breaking the scoreboard in this game, though. Give me the points on Saturday.

Prediction: Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (+45)

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This isn’t the Alabama offense that was averaging 48.5 points per game last season. Of course, that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a juggernaut. But I don’t believe they’re looking to prove any point on Saturday afternoon against an overmatched opponent like Southern Miss. They’ll run up the score early in the second half and then slowly pound them into submission the rest of the way. The Golden Eagles defense is holding its own against the run, and they’ve also done well on third-down conversions. They’ll get the same mercy the Crimson Tide showed Mercer in Week 2.

Coach Nick Saban has enough problems to worry about than leaving his starters in for too long and another key contributor going down with an injury. Give me the under in this one.

Prediction: Under (58.5)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast, and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY, and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys, and all the Sun Drop you can drink.