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Alabama vs. USC Staff Predictions

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NCAA Football: Southern California Spring Practice Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s almost here. USC’s 2016 season begins tomorrow against Alabama. Here is what our experts think about tomorrow’s game.

Myles Pressey: Alabama wins 34-23

Playing in the Pac-12, USC does not see many teams as physically imposing as the Alabama Crimson Tide. If Alabama controls the line of scrimmage early on offense and starts converting on third down, it could be a long day for the Trojans. However if the playmakers on the Trojan defense step up and create disruption in the backfield and defensive backs are able to lock up on Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart momentum could swing in favor of USC. Max Browne will then have to play flawlessly and hit Juju Smith-Schuster downfield a few times for touchdowns for the Trojans to win. If all goes perfectly the Trojans could be in for a huge upset win. However, Alabama is not ranked #1 in the country for no reason. Nick Saban led teams play very disciplined physical football and I expect their style of play to be a bit too much for USC to handle week 1.

Kirven Solomon: 30-21

Trojans start off the season against the defending national champions and it will be no easy task. Despite Alabama losing Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, the Roll Tide have plenty of talent on both sides of the football to win another title. There quarterback situation is still being played out but whoever hands off the ball running back Bo Scarbrough should make their job easier. USC has struggled heavily against the run and will now be tested against an Alabama offensive line that is usually good. With the many weapons that USC have, it may not be enough to stop the Roll Tide.

Steve Walter: USC: 17 – Alabama: 24

- This will be a closer contest than most are predicting (Vegas has Alabama as a 10.5 point favorite). The first half will likely be low scoring, as new quarterbacks on each side try to find their legs. Things will open up a little more in the second half, with both teams moving the ball through the running game. SC will have a chance to tie it at the end, but will come up short by a touchdown against a stronger Alabama defense.

Joseph Kavaloski: Alabama 31 USC 27

This will be a very close game. Alabama is breaking in multiple new starters along the offensive line as well as a new starting quarterback that will give USC’s young defensive line less of a challenge than many expect. The Trojans are also bedding in a new starting quarterback, but Max Browne has been patiently waiting for his opportunity and will be more prepared than his counterpart. Ultimately, the game will come down to how well USC’s offensive line can protect a pure pocket passer in Browne. Chad Wheeler’s availability for the game is very much 50/50 as he has just come back from a plantar fasciitis injury that kept him out for at least two weeks of camp. In the end, I expect Helton to play Wheeler but significantly limit his snaps as it appears he is comfortable relying on Chuma Edoga and Zach Banner interchanging at the left tackle spot. This will end up being USC’s downfall as Alabama’s pass rush will mix and match Tim Williams, Jonathan Allen, and Da’Shawn Hand against this spot to take advantage of Wheeler’s limitations and his replacement’s inexperience at the position. Coming out of the game, many people will be surprised by USC’s very strong performance and it will give the Trojans a significant jolt of confidence from having gone toe to toe with the defending National Champions.

Nick Barbarino: There’s a reason Alabama is the No. 1 team in the AP’s preseason Top 25. However, the Crimson Tide lost 13 players to the NFL from last season’s National Championship squad, including Heisman winner Derrick Henry. But the recruits never stop coming. Saban will have another No. 1 recruiting class, his fifth top ranked class in the past six years, to fill in the holes.

The Trojans will actually be the more experienced squad going into this matchup. I’d give the Trojans a higher winning percentage if Max Browne wasn’t making his first ever start against a Saban led defense. Not to mention the matchup is basically an Alabama home game. Tuscaloosa is a mere 600 miles from AT&T Stadium, while Los Angeles is 1,442 miles away. USC will compete but Alabama will pull away in the second half, most likely off an untimely turnover.

Final: 31-17 Alabama

Julian Lopez: 24-21, Alabama. It’s not going to be a blowout and I think a lot of people are overlooking USC. It’s going to be a great back and forth game with Bama winning on a late FG.

What do you think? Comment below.