The Alabama Crimson Tide and Missouri Tigers get their 2020 campaign started at Faurot Field on Saturday evening. Alabama are looking to reload after a disappointing season a year ago. Following a 48-45 loss against the Auburn Tigers in the final regular season game, the Crimson Tide had to settle on the Citrus Bowl against the Michigan Wolverines.
That would be a 35-16 win for the Crimson Tide, but the Citrus Bowl wasn’t what Alabama had in mind. Along with the Auburn loss, they also fell by a score of 46-41 against LSU earlier in the season. Two losses was just too much to include them in the playoff. I know the committee wanted to do their best to find a way to put Bama in, but that would have opened themselves up to a lot of criticism.
Recognizable talent will be gone from the Alabama offense in 2020. Tua Tagovailoa, Henry Ruggs, and Jerry Jeudy are all in the NFL now. However, this is Alabama and losing three stars shouldn’t put them off the map. Fortunately, Alabama found time to get Mac Jones snaps last season. He saw plenty of work and ended up finishing with 14 touchdowns and 3 interceptions on 68.6% passing in 2019.
Jones started against Auburn and played well with 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions on 66.7% passing. Could he have played better? Sure. He missed some throws, but not bad at all in a big spot like that in the Iron Bowl as an inexperienced quarterback. That had to be a good learning experience for this year. He is not a runner, so expect an offense that resembles something closer of the A.J. McCarron Crimson Tide teams.
He will play a big role for Alabama this season, but the focal point of the offense will be Najee Harris. Harris is a top-3 running back in the FBS and is going to chew up a lot of yards. He ran for 1,224 yards and a total of 20 touchdowns as a junior. Missouri will have to afford him a ton of respect.
The Tigers are in a transition period right now with a new head coach. Former Appalachian State head coach, Eliah Drinkwitz, is the new bench boss. He gets introduced to the SEC with an opening matchup against Alabama. Head below for our free Alabama vs. Missouri pick for September 26, 2020.
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Missouri Tigers NCAAF Week 4 Betting Odds:
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Missouri Tigers Prediction:
Nick Saban likely isn’t going to just want to see the ball being handed off to Harris for the duration of this game. I have to believe that Saban wants to get Mac Jones involved early and often. Giving Jones an opportunity to get his confidence up in his first start as the full time starter will probably be a priority.
The strength of the Missouri defense is up front around the line of scrimmage. All-American Nick Bolton will be the one defensive player that Alabama must slow down at the point of attack. If he’s allowed to run unblocked, then Bolton will do damage against the Crimson Tide in this one.
I think at times, especially in the first half, the Tigers should be able to get some stops against Alabama. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Crimson Tide are rusty in their first couple of drives. Having said that, Bama returns a host of talent offensively. Despite Tua going to the NFL, Alabama will be fine through the air.
DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle are going to give defensive coordinators headaches this season. Waddle is one of the fastest wide receivers in the nation and takes over for fellow burner Henry Ruggs. With Waddle playing more of a role in the offense, don’t expect to notice the absence of Ruggs at Bama. After pounding the ball with Harris to loosen up the defense, look for Jones to connect in the secondary often with Smith and Waddle.
Like I said, though, Mizzou should get some stops here and there against an Alabama offense that might need a minute gel. What I don’t see happening is the Tigers moving the ball effectively on the Crimson Tide. Along with a new head coach and system at Missouri, they’ll be working with a new quarterback.
They haven’t revealed who will be starting on Saturday afternoon, but if I had to guess, it’s probably TCU transfer Shawn Robinson. Robinson was a disappointment at TCU and is looking for a fresh start with the Tigers. A lot was expected of him, but he never developed properly. Robinson threw 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions on 60.8% completions versus bad Big 12 defenses in his final year there.
Like most Big 12 quarterbacks, I expected Robinson to benefit from a conference that plays no defense. However, that was not the case and Robinson struggled mightily. If he does start, Robinson will get a rude welcome to the SEC against an athletic Crimson Tide defense.
I see Alabama being able to take advantage of short field position and cashing in because of a strong defensive effort. I got this number at -27 before it rose, but anything under 30 on Bama looks good. A 41-10 win in their season opener in Missouri on Saturday night looks about right.