USC football will open the 2016 season as double-digit underdogs to the Alabama Crimson Tide, according to the early Vegas line.
The Trojans opened as 14-point underdogs to Alabama for their Week 1 match up at AT&T Stadium in Arlington this coming September, per betting site 5Dimes.com.
This is the first time USC is set to be a double-digit underdog since 2011. The Trojans were 16-point underdogs to the Oregon Ducks, but ultimately prevailed in a 38-35 upset in Eugene.
USC will be hoping they repeat history in that sense, because the defending national champions are certainly a formidable match up.
Nick Saban’s squad will be without the services of Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry and monster defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson, both of whom declared for the 2016 NFL Draft. Quarterback Jake Coker and linebacker Reggie Ragland will also depart due to graduation.
However, the Crimson Tide will be boosted by the unexpected return of tight end O.J. Howard, pass rusher Jonathan Allen and linebacker Reuben Foster.
The men of Troy are returning their share of talented players with only Su’a Cravens due to leave for the NFL early. However, a new coaching staff headed by Clay Helton has left plenty of questions swirling around the Trojans this offseason.
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There’s also the loss of quarterback Cody Kessler and all three starting defensive linemen adding to the concerns USC will have to answer in 2016.
Considering that, it’s no wonder the Crimson Tide have such a hefty upper hand in the early betting. However, as they showed in 2011, being an underdog does not guarantee defeat.
Alabama owns the series record against USC 5-2. That two last faced off in 1985 when the Tide beat the Trojans 24-3 in the Aloha Bowl. The most famous contest between the two teams was played out in Birmingham in 1970 when the all-black backfield of the Trojans pummeled Bear Bryant’s squad which had yet to be integrated.