In one of the top games of Week 1 of the 2021 college football season, No. 1 Alabama and No. 14 Miami (FL) will meet Saturday in Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It'll be a battle of fresh faces vs. experience when the Crimson Tide, the reigning national champions, face the Hurricanes. Alabama will need to replace more than a few offensive superstars who left for the NFL, including receiver DeVonta Smith, last season's Heisman Trophy winner, and star quarterback Mac Jones.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes return several stars on offense, including quarterback D'Eriq King, who should be 100% after suffering a torn ACL in the Cheez-It Bowl against Oklahoma State. If King can get hot against the mighty Crimson Tide defense, it'll go a long way toward catapulting him to the top of the Heisman Trophy race.
Let's break down the matchup and make a pick for Saturday's Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.
Alabama vs. Miami: Need to know
Alabama's new-look offense: This will be one of coach Nick Saban's toughest tests as far as replacing departed superstars on one side of the ball. Once again, there's a new offensive coordinator (Bill O'Brien) and several players -- quarterback Bryce Young, running back Brian Robinson and wide receiver John Metchie III among them -- expected to take on massive roles in 2021. Young, the former No. 2 overall prospect in the Class of 2020, will add the quarterback running game into the Tide's arsenal after Jones operated in more of a traditional offense last year. It'll be an interesting matchup against a Miami defense that lost several stars off of its defensive line.
A dangerous Canes offense: One of the most dynamic offenses in the country will hit the field on Saturday, and it won't be the one in the crimson and white. In Year 1 with the Hurricanes, King threw for 2,686 yards, rushed for 538 and totaled 27 touchdowns in 11 games. This time around, he should be even more comfortable in an offense coordinated by Rhett Lashlee. Speaking of Lashlee, keep in mind he was on Auburn's staff in 2010 and 2013 when the Tigers slayed the Alabama dragon. Yes, the Tide's defense should be legit, but so is Miami's offense. This is the kind of strength vs. strength matchup that creates great college football games.
Crimson Tide looking to repeat: As the old adage goes, it's much harder to repeat as national champions than it is to win one. That will be tested this season. Alabama has been in the national title mix every year since 2008, but hasn't gone back-to-back since 2011 and 2012, when college football was more defensively-driven than it is now. Saban has figured out how to win multiple national titles with different styles, but sometimes repeating takes time with players who just enjoyed the ultimate success.
How to watch Alabama vs. Miami live
Date: Saturday, Sept. 4 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium -- Atlanta, Georgia
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Alabama vs. Miami prediction, picks
Complacency won't be an issue for Alabama's new-look offense, which will keep its foot on the gas for all four quarters no matter the score. After all, they have to get those game reps. Whether Miami can keep up will depend on what King is able to do against this Tide defense, but the Hurricanes should do enough to keep pressure on Young and Co. for all four quarters. Alabama will get the job done and force a few mistakes, but Las Vegas isn't giving the Hurricanes enough respect. Prediction: Miami (+18.5)
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 1, and which national title contender will go down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned over $3,600 in profit over the past five-plus seasons -- and find out.