The Florida State Seminoles, ranked #3 in the AP Poll, are set to go to battle with the Alabama Crimson Tide, ranked #1 in the AP Poll, in Atlanta, GA. The hype for this game could not be any higher as this is the first season opener ever to have two ranked teams in the top three of the polls. The wait is almost over, let’s get to previewing it!
The game is set for Saturday, September 2 at 8 p.m. EST, and will be broadcast nationally on ABC and can be streamed on Watch ESPN.
The Seminoles are underdogs in this one, with Alabama favored by seven points.
Let’s take a look at a few storylines heading into Saturday:
1. Alabama D-line vs Florida State O-line:
The Alabama defense has always been a unit that performs well in big games. Specifically, the defensive line has been a problem for opposing offensive lines. This game is no different. Florida State’s offensive line has struggled the past few years, and if they don’t play the best game of their lives, it could be a long day for Seminoles quarterback Deondre Francois. If the offensive line holds their ground against this massive defensive line, look for Francois to take advantage of the time given to him to complete throws downfield.
2. Who will step up and catch passes for Florida State?
As mentioned in the season preview a few days ago, the biggest issue that the Seminoles have outside of offensive line is to find someone that will step up at receiver. There are only two wide receivers that have previously caught passes in a game. Receivers Auden Tate, George Campbell, and Keith Gavin need to take advantage of their height and go up and win 1-on-1 jump balls, and Nyqwan “Noonie” Murray needs to find a way to get behind the Crimson Tide defense. If Francois has time to throw, I expect him to move around and look for someone that can get open.
3. Can the Seminoles defense hold up?
The Crimson Tide have an all-world running back in Bo Scarbrough and a dual-threat quarterback in Jalen Hurts. The Seminoles biggest strength may well be their defense. The Seminoles have a very stingy front seven and have all but one starting player returning from last season’s team. The Seminoles have to find a way to contain Scarbrough, but that’s not the only issue they have to deal with. Hurts has gotten better every game since he started as a true freshman last year. He is dangerous because he can launch it downfield, or when a play breaks down, he can get out and run for a big play. The front seven will have to contain Hurts to prevent big running plays, but need the secondary to live up to their hype and force the rare “coverage sack” against Hurts and the Tide.
4. Can Jimbo Fisher beat Nick Saban?
Nick Saban is one of the greatest coaches in college football history and is currently 10-0 in season openers as Alabama head coach. Saban is the master of preparing for season openers, as his Crimson Tide teams have won by a combined 412-120. But to date, Alabama has not played a team of Florida State’s caliber. Jimbo Fisher himself is becoming one of the best coaches in college football, if he’s not already up there. He, himself, is undefeated in season openers at 7-0. However, since becoming head coach in 2010, the Seminoles and Fisher have not played anyone that is a top program in the season opener. One of the undefeated records for these coaches will fall after this game. The two coaches have differing coaching strengths, as Fisher’s strength is on offense, while Saban’s strength is on the defensive side of the ball. This will be an interesting coaching battle to watch and see how they go after each other. Coaching decisions will matter in this game as it is expected to be a close one.
The Seminoles and Crimson Tide should be a competitive matchup and will surely be a physical one. This matchup could be a defensive battle as both defenses are the strengths of these teams. Saban and Fisher will do whatever it takes to outsmart the other, in hopes of a pivotal early season victory. Expect a close game between the two, with a late game score being the deciding factor.
Florida State 24, Alabama 23