ESPN College GameDay kicks off week 1 of college football betting with the Badgers facing the Tide.

Wisconsin V Alabama Odds, Free Pick & TV Info

The Alabama Crimson Tide (12-2 SU, 5-9 ATS) will look to get rid of the bad taste left in their collective mouths after getting unceremoniously bounced out of the first-ever four-team playoff by eventual national champion Ohio State while the Wisconsin Badgers (11-3 SU, 6-8 ATS) look to get the Paul Chryst era started off with what could turn out to be a season-defining road upset.

The college football odds makers have the Tide as 10.5-point favorites over the Badgers. Alabama is listed as the home team with the game being played at the home of the Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Wisconsin Badgers V Alabama Crimson Tide Betting Odds, Free Pick & How To Watch

Wisconsin Badgers at Alabama Crimson Tide
Date: Saturday, September 5, 2015 
Start Time: 8:00 PM ET 
Location: Arlington, TX
Stadium: AT&T Stadium
Odds: Alabama -10.5
Game Total: 53.5
Radio: Wisconsin vs Alabama

Wisconsin enters this contest without 2014 superstar Heisman contender, running back Melvin Gordon. Alabama will have to overcome the losses of  all-world wide receiver Amari Cooper, starting quarterback Blake Sims and a handful of other key contributors from its 2014 squad.

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The Badgers may have lost Gordon to the NFL, but they’ve got another elite running back in junior Corey Clement, the all-time South Jersey high school rushing leader and a player capable of taking one to the house from anywhere on the field. 

Clement rushed 147 times for 949 yards and a stunning 6.5-yard average as a sophomore this past season, so I don’t think Alabama will be surprised to see Wisconsin’s new featured back carry the rock early and often.

While the Badgers have annually produced some of the best running backs in the nation over the last two decades and figure to get another stellar campaign from Clement, Wisconsin will need starting quarterback Joel Stave to compliment the rushing attack with some competent passing. The good news is that their unquestioned starter has gone 21-7 as a starter over the last three seasons.

Alabama has just four returning starters on offense and needs to find out in a hurry if scheduled starting quarterback Jake Coker is the real deal or not. Coker was expected to win the starting quarterback job last season over Sims, but the Florida State transfer couldn’t beat out Sims’ athleticism and leadership abilities.

With Sims gone, head coach Nick Saban is hoping that Coker can put a stranglehold on the starting spot although he threw just 59 passes in relief duty last season. Coker will be challenged by talented freshmen Blake Barnett and David Cornwell, along with Cooper Bateman and Alec Morris, but the reality is that Coker will have to play pretty poorly in order to lose a starting job that has been handed to him.

Not only does Alabama have to replace several key performers on offense, but they’ve also got their fair share of question marks on the defensive side of the ball, particularly at safety where they’ll have two new starters in 2015. Alabama gave up a surprising 19 passes of 30 or more yards last season and could be susceptible to a couple of big throws by Stave in this contest.

I know the Crimson Tide are 4-1 ATS in their last five games against Big Ten ballclubs and 9-4 ATS in their last 13 neutral site games, but Nick Saban’s teams have also compiled a dismal 5-12-1 ATS in their last 18 games while also going just 2-6 ATS in their last eight games in the month of September and 3-12-1 ATS in their last 16 games against non-conference opponents.

Conversely, the Badgers have gone 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight games in September and simply have the kind of team and playing style that won’t allow for the Crimson Tide to run away from them.

While Alabama limited their opponents to just 18.4 points per game last season, the Badgers were almost as good in keeping their opponents off the scoreboard, allowing just 20.1 points per game defensively.

Alabama’s on-field excellence in 2014 certainly wasn’t matched by their ATS statistics as they covered the spread just three times in nine games as a double-digit favorite and could never get past their 1-5 ATS start last season.

Wisconsin easily covers the spread in this 2015 regular season opener.

College Football Betting Pick: Wisconsin +10.5 Points