The showcase game of Saturday kicks off tonight between the Florida State Seminoles and Alabama Crimson Tide. What more can you ask for? Taking place on a neutral field at the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Florida State and Alabama will show what they got in an early season showdown. A loss here for either team will provide a difficult road the rest of the year.
Yes, a loss does not guarantee that they will be out of the playoff, but it does create a scenario where there is no room for errors the rest of the way. Alabama was stopped by Clemson a year ago in the National Championship, but they are back and looking for redemption. The Crimson Tide enter the season ranked number 1 in the country.
Not far behind Alabama is Florida State, who enter the party ranked 3rd in the nation. Ohio State and USC fill out the other slots in the first poll of the college football season. Both of these schools get back their prized possessions at quarterback. On one side is Jalen Hurts, and on the other is Deondre Francois.
Hurts and Francois can both do a lot of things right, including running the ball and finding room when there isn’t anything. Additionally, both showcased flashes of brilliance in 2016. Francois was just a freshman a year ago, and he looked as composed as some seniors at other programs.
Francois was good, but he must elevate his game and bring Florida State just a bit higher. He threw for 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, along with 198 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns on the ground. Those are good numbers for a freshman, especially only 7 interceptions.
Nevertheless, the Seminoles want Francois to evolve much in the same way that Jameis Winston did in his tenure at Florida State. Winston became a great quarterback from a good one. On the other side, Alabama is hoping that Hurts can develop more so into a pocket-passer and find his targets downfield.
He still threw for 23 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, but there was room for improvement from the freshman through the air. FSU had issues defending the pass, and if Bama runs away with this game, it’s because Hurts connected in the passing game. I made it a priority to have a pick for this game. Go below to find our pick for
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Florida State Seminoles Betting Odds:
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Alabama vs. Florida State Pick:
The MO for both of these teams in 2017 will be quite similar. Ride a strong defense to get them over the top, while Hurts and Francois quietly go about their business. Florida State has had issues defending the pass the last couple of years, but they did show signs of improvement down the stretch. Francois will be throwing into the teeth of yet another strong secondary at Alabama. They don’t rebuild, all they do is rebuild in Tuscaloosa.
The Crimson Tide will get three critical cogs in the secondary back: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Ronnie Harrison, and Anthony Averett. They do have to replace some talent up front, but Bama should have no problems getting production. If the running game isn’t working for FSU, they will be forced to throw right into a stout Crimson Tide secondary.
The Seminoles allowed 225.9 yards per game through the air for 65th in the FBS last season. Alabama finished 15th, and I expect that number to get better for them this year. Note, though, Florida State brings back virtually everyone from their defense, which overall was great besides the slow starting secondary. The pass defense will improve drastically, and should look good against Alabama.
I expect the Noles defensive line to be one of the best in the country, if not the best. Not just starting talent, but they’re going to have depth. I think this is the key for Florida State in this matchup with Alabama. They may not win, but the improved defense is going to hold them in this game. Florida State keeps it within 7 so we’ll take the points for this college football pick on Saturday night.
PICK: FLORIDA STATE +7 (-110)