NCAAF Odds: Alabama gets top ranking

By: Adam Markowitz | Saturday, July 3, 2010

Alabama QB Greg McElroy threw just four interceptions last season.

Just a few years ago, the Alabama Crimson Tide were coming off of the embarrassment of being placed on probation and losing scholarships. The once proud school went through a number of miserable seasons before Nick Saban took over as head coach. It didn't take long for the former LSU coach to bring glory to Tuscaloosa.

Last NCAA football college season was one of the proudest in the history of the program. The Crimson Tide ran the table and went a perfect 14-0 SU, including a win over the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship Game and a dismissal of the also perfect Texas Longhorns to win the national title game.

Alabama is back with a very different looking cast of characters. The team rolls into this campaign as the plus 600 favorite to win the national title for a second straight season. The task won't be an easy one though, as no team has garnered back-to-back titles since Southern California pulled off half of the title in 2003 and the outright championship in '04. The last time that a team won two straight outright titles was in 1994 and 1995 when the Nebraska Cornhuskers pulled off the feat.

All of the NCAAF collegue offensive cogs will be returning. Quarterback Greg McElroy wasn't asked to do much last season, nor will he be given a tough task in 2010. Including the BCS title game, McElroy completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 2,508 yards and 17 touchdowns. The crucial number among his statistics is the number four. That was how many interceptions McElroy threw during the entire season.

If he takes care of the pigskin, the running attack is going to be plenty dangerous for the Tide to roll to a ton of victories.
Heisman Trophy winning running back Mark Ingram is back for his third year in Tuscaloosa. He rushed for 1,658 yards and averaged a whopping 6.1 yards per carry. Ingram was the third straight sophomore to win college football's most illustrious individual award after no freshman or sophomore had ever taken the honor.

When you think of some of the great names that have toted the rock at Alabama, it's hard to believe that Ingram had almost 200 more rushing yards in his sophomore season than anyone else in the history of this program.

Defensively is where a lot of things have changed. The unit ranked second in college football, allowing an average of just 244.3 yards and 11.7 points per game. However, 11 players that put forth a crucial effort towards last year's fantastic numbers have moved on.

Give the Tide some credit for scheduling the Penn State Nittany Lions in the second week of the NCAAF college season this year. This is nothing new for Alabama, which in recent seasons has taken on Virginia Tech (2009) and Clemson (2008). Those games have provided crucial victories for a Tide team that is 2-0 both straight up and against the spread in those efforts.

The SEC schedule at Bryce-Denny Stadium will include Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Auburn. Trips to Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee and LSU won't be fun in spite of the fact that the Tide went 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS in its four SEC road tests.

Over the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide have been fantastic in the SEC during the regular season. They finished 2008 by covering the college football betting lines in their final four conference tussles, going 6-2 ATS overall in the SEC. Last year provided NCAA football wagering warriors with yet another solid year, as Alabama went 5-3 ATS in the regular season and added the 32-13 win over Florida in the SEC title match.

The Crimson Tide went on a four-game cover streak from Sept. 26 through Oct. 10. The team finished the 2009 season at a rock solid 9-5 ATS.

After starting the year with three straight 'over' contests, Alabama saw the 'over' finish at 7-6-1.
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