Alabama and Florida State are projected in 2017’s top three by advanced stats, in the top four by the way-too-early polls, in the top six by online casinos, and in the Playoff by some idiot. When they meet in Week 1, it could be the biggest season-opening game in college football history, especially if Alabama’s No. 1 and FSU’s No. 2 or No. 3 to start the season.
Or the other way around?
"Florida State has a great team and a great program and will probably be No. 1 in the country," Nick Saban said Tuesday in Destin, Fla. at SEC meetings.
Bama will almost certainly rank No. 1 in the preseason AP Poll after nearly winning another national title, elevating another crop of former five-stars, and no longer having a freshman at quarterback. You can make a case for FSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State, USC, Penn State, or somebody else as the best team or likeliest title team, but unless a team jumps off the page, it’ll be the simple choice.
Saban’s talking up his opponent, a tactic coaches have used for decades. He’s not talking it up that much, though, and there’s every reason to think the Noles can hang with the Tide.
Florida State’s defense might — might — be better than Bama’s.
Normally, there’s not a question of which team has the best defense when Alabama is involved. But Florida State has some unique talents. It might be better than any defense Alabama faced en route to Clemson last season.
Losing almost all of 2016 to injury has only fed the legend of safety/pass-rusher/destroyer of worlds Derwin James, who has top-five NFL draft hopes.
The Seminoles move James all over, usually turning the deep field into a no-fly zone at field safety. He was absent in disastrous performances against Lamar Jackson’s Louisville and Deshaun Watson’s Clemson and will be instrumental in keeping Hurts contained.
Additionally, the Noles return safeties Trey Marshall and A.J. Westbrook, who gained valuable experience in 2016 playing without James. (Marshall is suspended for the first half of this game because of a targeting penalty in the Orange Bowl.) Also back is cornerback Tarvarus McFadden (eight INTs), both starting inside linebackers (Ro’Derrick Hoskins and Matthew Thomas), and a pair of excellent pass rushers in Josh Sweat (seven sacks) and Brian Burns (9.5 sacks).