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Colorado State Rams vs. Alabama Crimson Tide Point Spread - Pick

Colorado State Rams (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS)
College Football Week 3
Date/Time: Saturday, September 16, 2017 at 7PM EST
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
TV: ESPN 2

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: CSU +28.5/ALA -28.5
Over/Under Total: 53.5

The Colorado State Rams come into Tuscaloosa on Saturday to face the Alabama Crimson Tide in week three action. Alabama went to 2-0 with a 41-10 win over Fresno State on Saturday, which followed an impressive thumping of Florida State in week one. They now turn their attention to a CSU team that went to 2-1 on Saturday with a 38-10 win over Abilene Christian. Things get a lot tougher for the Rams this weekend, with a daunting road test against what might be the best team in the country in the Tide.

Alabama never really had a game on their hands in either of the first two weeks. Against Fresno State, they had their way, even if they didn't cover the massive spread. We see Nick Saban working on a lot of different things. A lot of guys are getting work and he's trying out a lot of different personnel on both sides of the ball. On offense, he's working with a cabaret approach of different backs. And early on against Fresno, we started seeing a lot of freshman QB Tua Tagovailoa, a highly-touted youngster who gives 'Bama more of a real passer, with starter Jalen Hurts more of a dual-threat type of guy. Still, when you're trying to cover monstrous spreads, it might not be all that helpful to be betting on a team that is so experimental in how they approach working with different personnel and approaches.

Still, Hurts is a terror and his handiwork quickly put Saturday's game in Alabama's column. He threw for a TD on 14-for-18 passing, while running for 154 yards and two scores and didn't come close to playing a full game. With any number of different running backs that can do damage like Bo Scarborough, Damien Harris, and Najee Harris, they are a handful on the ground. Calvin Ridley is still the go-to receiver, with Cam Sims providing some production.

It's worth keeping an eye on the areas where Alabama had to reload, following the departure of some key wide receivers, offensive linemen, and linebackers. But if they did take a step back in those areas, it will materialize when they start facing the better teams on their schedule. Florida State was a big test and they passed. At some point, you just have to defer to a team's recruiting prowess. There are positions on the field where Alabama's least-attractive option surpasses Colorado State's best choice. In other words, discussing the youngsters who are seeing their first real action for the Tide doesn't hold much water in a matchup like this. Talent-wise, there is no comparison. But alas, we're not merely picking winners, we're trying to cover spreads and this is a big one.

In matchups like these, Jalen Hurts can really put his talent to good use. Look for him to use his arm and legs against the Rams. With the CSU "D" spread thin covering Hurts' major weaponry, he will have ample opportunities to compile some big scampers. And the Alabama defense has been robust, even against Florida State. Fresno's only real offensive success came long after the game had been put away by the Tide. The secondary looks tough with Minkah Fitzpatrick, Anthony Averett, and Ronnie Harrison. Shaun Dion Hamilton is a force in the middle. Da'Ron Payne is part of an impactful front that includes Raekwon Davis.

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Colorado State may be out of their element, but maybe they can cover the giant-sized spread. It's a tough task, especially as this is their 4th game in 20 days to open the season. Their season opened early on August 26 with a nice 58-27 win over Oregon State. A 17-3 loss at Colorado cooled their heels a bit, but they got back on the winning track last week. They return a lot of firepower on offense with a lot of key members of the defense also returning for 2017. There are issues on the defense, namely on the line and in the secondary and we'll see how much that costs them in this matchup.

Senior QB Nick Stevens is one of the best quarterbacks in the Mountain West Conference and threw for over 300 for the third straight game on Saturday, with 337 yards and 3 TD throws. It's a bit alarming that in game two, the Rams managed a measly 3 points with such aerial production, but they did better last week in converting production into actual points. Stevens works with a pair of experienced and productive receivers in Michael Gallup and Olabisi Johnson. Their top three backs from last season are also back with Izzy Matthews, Dalyn Dawkins, and Marvin Kinsey, Jr., who make for a nice cabaret of backs. Detrich Clark, a speedy QB who lines up at receiver, is also a very useful weapon. There is a lot of depth in the playmaking department for Colorado St. The line has some youth, but also a tremendous center in Jake Bennett.

Giving up 54 combined points to a pair of Pac-12 teams and an FCS opponent would qualify as a positive start for the Colorado State defense. That kind of resilience can go a long way when needing to cover huge spreads like this. Josh Watson has been good in the middle, but not having Deonte Clyburn is a big loss. Defensive backs Kevin Nutt and Jake Schalger are anchors in the secondary, but the big issue for this matchup is the defensive line, which doesn't appear to match up very favorably against the 'Bama run-game.

These games can be tough to pick in an ATS sense. Once you get past a certain number of points, it starts coming down to garbage time activity where it can be hard to pinpoint what will occur. Alabama, despite the things they might say to reporters, won't have the same respect for Colorado State that they would in a more-competitive setting. Meanwhile, Colorado State will be trying harder, but how much does that matter when facing such a talent deficit? We like Colorado State's pluckiness, but we see the number being manageable for the Tide this week.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Alabama Crimson Tide minus 28.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Rams vs. Tide game from the comfort of home by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!

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