Portions of this article came from College Football News.com
This is what you came for.
All the waiting for the college football season, all the speculation, all the thoughts, theories and beliefs about who’s great, who’s not, who’s overrated, who’ll end up in the College Football Playoff, and what’s going to happen could all likely be settled in Atlanta on the first big Saturday night of the season.
Alabama is everyone’s No. 1, Florida State is actually the second best team – even if the AP and Coaches polls don’t see it that way – with a good argument to be made as the top team in terms of talent. And now. these two get to beat each other up in one of the most impressive opening weekend matchups ever.
Can another star of the ACC pick up against the Crimson Tide where the last one left off in Tampa back in January?
Can Alabama flex it muscle and show that, yeah, it’s Alabama, and the rest of the world isn’t?
Can this be a good enough game so that the potential remains for the loser to get into the College Football Playoff and make this a possible rematch in the shiny new Mercedes-Benz Stadium again on January 8th when the stakes are going to be far higher?
At the very least, the winner of this will have the inside track to at least get into the CFP and be everyone’s No. 1 team until something crazy happens.
Hopefully, this is just the start of a fun and crazy year with plenty of twists, turns, and classics before figuring out the final four teams.
But if the best game of the 2017 college football season just so happens to be played in Atlanta on September 2nd, it’s all good.
One Reason Why Alabama Will Win
When push comes to shove, can Florida State do enough pushing and shoving? Will the lines be physical enough once Alabama starts pounding?
It’s the game’s biggest question mark – will new Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Brian Daboll keep things relatively vanilla, or will there be more downfield shots?
Behind yet another tremendous O line, and with a loaded backfield highlighted by a dangerous running quarterback in Jalen Hurts, Daboll and the Crimson Tide offense might just line up, pound away, and dare Florida State’s defensive front to hold up for a full four quarters.
The talent is certainly there on the Seminole front four, and the run defense was a brick wall last year after being ripped up by the Lamar Jackson show and the South Florida spread attack, but this might be different. This should be a war of attrition.
That goes for the other side, too. The offensive line is Florida State’s one relative concern to start the season, and – duh – the Alabama defensive front is going to be outstanding again.
One Reason Why Florida State Will Win
Hurts has supposedly improved as a passer.
He’s worked on his mechanics with Daboll, he’s gotten stronger at pushing the ball down the field, and he’s rounding out his game after a rocky end to last season when it came to throwing a football well.
That’s practice, though. And yes, while going against the Alabama secondary every day will make you better, but when it comes to dealing with live action, this Florida State secondary isn’t one to tune up against.
With Derwin James back and healthy to lead a loaded group of NFL defensive backs, don’t expect Hurts to all of sudden turn into Tom Brady when he needs to get the passing attack working.
Making matters worse, three of last year’s top four Alabama pass catchers have to be replaced, so if FSU can hold up against the run and force third-and-longs – and keep Hurts from taking off – the D will get the Tide off the field.
What’s Going To Happen
This will be a battle of wills that should go deep into the 4th quarter before either team looks to pull away.
Both teams stand to be in contention for a playoff spot at year’s end and an early loss, assuming it’s a close one, shouldn’t derail that. But the winner will definitely have an inside track and a strong “W” to start their 2017 campaign.
Yes this site does lean heavily in favor of promoting FSU, we make no apologies for that. And yes, we’re picking FSU to win a close battle that should categorize this as an “instant classic” on ESPN.
Final Score Prediction:
FSU 31 Alabama 27