In the first week of college football, there is only one game between top ten, even top five, opponents. That game is between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Florida State Seminoles. Both teams come into the season with the hopes of lifting another national championship. Alabama has not won a championship since two seasons ago while Florida State has not won since 2013. Both teams hope to end that brief title drought and a win over a top five opponent would basically lock either team into the college football playoff.
Alabama, led by coach Nick Saban, will attempt to rally from its crushing 35-31 loss to Clemson in the national title game last season. Alabama kept the majority of its offensive talent and will be led by sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts and junior running back Bo Scarbrough. Hurts is a dual threat quarterback who has the ability to elongate plays with his legs as well as pick up key first downs through scrambling. The issue with Hurts is his throwing accuracy which led to his awful performance in the title game. In that game, Hurts only completed 13 passes out of 31 attempts and was dared by the Clemson defense to beat them with his arm which he failed to do. Scarbrough, on the other hand, looked phenomenal in the title game and ran for 93 yards with two touchdowns before leaving with an injury in the second half. Scarbrough, when healthy, is a serious Heisman trophy contender. He has the NFL prototypical combo of size and speed and he should be a force this season as he hopes to carry his team to another title.
On defense, Alabama did lose some key pieces including star linebacker Reuben Foster and star defensive lineman Jonathan Allen. However, it is Alabama so Saban has already prepared for these losses through great secondary and defensive line depth as well as elite recruiting. Returning for Alabama is star defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick will most likely be a top ten pick in the upcoming NFL draft and will use his elite size and range to generate tons of turnovers. Overall, this team probably has the most talent on any current college roster and is the favorite to win the national title as a result.
Alabama’s opponent, Florida State, is definitely capable of pulling off this upset. Florida State finished 10-3 last season including a victory over Michigan in the Capital One Orange Bowl. Leading the Seminoles will be second-year quarterback Deondre Francois who threw for over 3300 yards and 20 touchdowns in his freshman season. Francois has the talent to be an elite college quarterback moving forward. The only issue concerning him was the amount of sacks taken. Francois was sacked a lot last season due to an inconsistent offensive line as well as a tendency for him to hold the ball for too long. With Alabama’s elite defensive line, Francois needs to get rid of the ball quicker. If not, it could be a long day for the Seminoles.
Florida State is also dealing with a key loss on offense as star running back Dalvin Cook is gone. Replacing Cook will most likely be newcomer Cam Akers. Despite being a true freshman, Akers was the number one ranked high school running back in the country and will probably be a phenomenal running back in college. I expect Akers to take the NCAA by storm and to use his size and speed to leave tacklers in the dust.
On defense, remember the name Derwin James. Last season, he was regarded as the Seminoles’ best defensive player before suffering a serious knee injury in week two that ended his season. James might be the best all-around safety I have seen since Sean Taylor. He has the ball-hawking skills of a young Ed Reed and the hit power of a Kam Chancellor. If he stays healthy, he will be a top five pick in the draft and will be a future All-Pro in the NFL. Mark my words.
As for a prediction, I have to side with Alabama. Nick Saban has always scheduled difficult opponents in week one of the season and his team continues to destroy them. In the last two seasons, Alabama started off the season by defeating a ranked Wisconsin team handily and then destroying a ranked USC team the following year. Alabama has the experience and the talent to go undefeated again and I expect them to wear down Florida State in the second half. I still like this Seminoles team and expect them to make the college football playoffs but Alabama has not lost consecutive games since 2013. I think Alabama wins a very close game due to Scarbrough and their defensive line.
Alabama vs. Florida State: Game Time, TV Channel & Viewing Details
Event: Alabama vs. Florida State
Date: Saturday, September 2, 2017
Start Time: 8:00 P.M. EST
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia
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