The annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game from Atlanta features defending national champion Alabama against Miami (Fla.) on Saturday, Sept. 4. That's not news. What is news is that the kickoff time has been set for 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC and that one sportsbook has opened the Crimson Tide as whopping 18.5-point favorites. It's the first meeting between the marquee programs in nearly two decades and first time Miami is at least an 18.5-point underdog since November 2013.
Alabama could open the season as the No. 1 team in both the AP and USA Top 25 polls later this summer, and the Tide are +300 favorites at William Hill Sportsbook to repeat as national champions despite losing a ton of talent off the utterly dominant 2020 unbeaten team. Six Alabama players were taken in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, tying a record from any school – previously set by Miami in 2004. The previous high under Nick Saban was four first-round picks. Saban just reloads with five-stars every year (and transfers).
Bryce Young, barring injury, takes over for Mac Jones under center for Bama and Young already is a +900 third favorite to win the Heisman despite having thrown just 22 mostly meaningless collegiate passes. The Tide play in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game fairly often and played in the most recent one in 2019 (2020 version canceled). That year, Bama was ranked No. 2 and blasted Duke 42-3 to improve to 6-0 in this game, winning each by double digits.
Miami finished last season 8-3 and should be ranked in the preseason Top 25 as well, currently +5000 to win the national title, although probably in the bottom 10. Sister site 247Sports ranks Miami 18th currently. The Hurricanes' season could largely depend on whether star quarterback D'Eriq King can return from a torn ACL suffered in UM's bowl loss to Oklahoma State.
King does appear on track to make it for the opener, but there is talk this spread could get as high as 22 points -- UM has been that big of a dog just once this century -- if King isn't ready and Miami has to turn to an inexperienced signal-caller. That this game could be a blowout likely was why ABC chose 3:30 p.m. ET and put Georgia-Clemson from Charlotte in the prime-time spot on Sept. 4 as those schools will both be in the preseason Top 5. Clemson opened at -3.
Alabama is 14-3 all-time vs. Miami, but the schools haven't played since the second-ranked Tide rolled the No. 1 Hurricanes 34-13 in the Sugar Bowl following the 1992 season to win the national title.
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