Breaking down Alabama vs. USC, position by position

USC has most to gain with a win over Alabama (1:15)

Danny Kanell breaks down what a win for USC over Alabama would mean for the Trojans and examines a key match up to watch. (1:15)

No. 1 Alabama enters Saturday's game against No. 20 USC as an 11-point favorite, according to the Westgate SuperBook, but the Trojans won't be outmatched across the board.

Here is a look, position by position, at how the two college football heavyweights match up:


Alabama: Expect Cooper Bateman to start and Blake Barnett to come on either in special packages or for a predetermined number of series. Bateman, a fourth-year junior, is the only QB on the roster with a career pass attempt. Jalen Hurts is a special talent, but as a true freshman, he's a wild card. -- Alex Scarborough

USC: Highly touted Max Browne finally gets his shot after beating out redshirt freshman Sam Darnold in a hotly contested competition. The fourth-year junior has a strong, accurate arm. He had his best week of practice after being named the starter. -- Kyle Bonagura

Verdict: Edge USC


Alabama: The running game was a one-man show last season under Derrick Henry, but that isn't a trend. Sophomores Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris will be the lead dogs, but freshmen BJ Emmons and Joshua Jacobs could each play a role. -- Scarborough

USC: Senior Justin Davis and sophomore Ronald Jones II are both threats to run for over 1,000 yards in an offense that is expected to be more run heavy than in years past. Don't forget about Aca'Cedric Ware either; the sophomore has taken big strides since last year and should earn more carries. -- Bonagura

Verdict: Edge USC


Alabama: This is arguably the most talented collection of receivers during coach Nick Saban's tenure at Alabama. Calvin Ridley is an obvious star, but ArDarius Stewart and Robert Foster both have big-play ability, and grad transfer Gehrig Dieter has the potential to make a difference in the slot. -- Scarborough

USC: JuJu Smith-Schuster gets the attention, but the Trojans return all their receivers from last season and have added highly rated freshmen. Sophomore Deontay Burnett stood out in training camp after being used sparingly last season. -- Bonagura

Verdict: Push


Alabama: The loss of three-year starting center Ryan Kelly could affect the line's chemistry early in the season, but this group is talented enough to make up the difference. Cam Robinson is a franchise left tackle, Ross Pierschbacher has played well in relief the past two seasons and youngsters Lester Cotton and Jonah Williams are loaded with potential. -- Scarborough

USC: Zach Banner might be the best right tackle in the country, and it's fair to call everyone on the line a serious candidate for all-conference honors. LT Chad Wheeler's status against Alabama remains up in the air as he deals with plantar fasciitis. If he can't go, Chuma Edoga will get the start. -- Bonagura

Verdict: Edge Alabama


Alabama: This group will go six to seven deep yet again, led by the anchor Jonathan Allen, who turned down the NFL to return for his senior season. Da'Ron Payne, Dalvin Tomlinson and Da'Shawn Hand round out the first team, but Dakota Ball and Raekwon Davis could play vital roles, depending on down and distance. -- Scarborough

USC: Coach Clay Helton's biggest concern in the spring was somewhat alleviated by a strong showing in camp, but there is very little experience here, which makes the group largely an unknown. Utah transfer Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, who also visited Alabama, was an important addition following spring practice. -- Bonagura

Verdict: Edge Alabama


Alabama: Here's where the speed comes in. Between Reuben Foster, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams, this group can definitely cover sideline-to-sideline. The wild card, Rashaan Evans, could be a lethal pass-rusher, after sacking Clemson QB Deshaun Watson twice last season. -- Scarborough

USC: Cam Smith will be among the best defensive players in the Pac-12, but Smith, just a sophomore, doesn't have much proven talent around him. Michael Hutchings, who has two starts to his name, is expected to start inside next to Smith on Saturday. -- Bonagura

Verdict: Edge Alabama


Alabama: In terms of front-line starters, this group is in good shape, with Eddie Jackson and Ronnie Harrison at safety and Marlon Humphrey and Minkah Fitzpatrick at cornerback. Jackson is already a star, but Fitzpatrick has a chance to be special. But where there is some concern is depth, after potential nickelbacks Maurice Smith and Kendall Sheffield left the program during the offseason. -- Scarborough

USC: Iman Marshall and Adoree' Jackson form one of the best cornerback partnerships in the country, and a number of safeties have the ability to rotate through without much of a talent gap. One thing to expect: USC will play a lot more man-to-man coverage with new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast in charge. -- Bonagura

Verdict: Edge USC


Alabama: JK Scott is one of the best punters in the country, but kicker Adam Griffith has had his share of ups and downs. The return game, on the other hand, is still up in the air with a few candidates vying to return kicks and punts. -- Scarborough

USC: Matt Boermeester will take over kicking duties, while the punting situation is still a question mark. In the return game, Jackson is especially dangerous on punt returns, but he ranked No. 8 in the Pac-12 last season on kickoff returns. ­-- Bonagura

Verdict: Push