College Football Pick
The college football season may be a week old, but most are considering the matchup between Florida State and Alabama as the official kickoff to 2017. In primetime Saturday night at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Alabama is a -7.5 point favorite (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) over Florida State.
Expected to be two of the better teams in the country yet again, there may end up being a rematch between these squads in the CFP. Of course, there’s still a long way to go. Most of the headlines will be on the quarterback battle and that’s a good place to start.
The Crimson Tide lost plenty of players from last year’s dominant squad, but a number of returnees still remain, most notably starting quarterback Jalen Hurts (36 total TDs, 954 rushing yards). Hurts is expected to pass a bit more this season, but it may end up being easier to use his bread-and-butter against Florida State if it ends up being a tight Game. With three returning starters on the line, the Tide will use a number of studs in the running Game starting with Damien Harris and Bo SCarbrough. In the passing Game, Hurts will likely use Calvin Ridley (72 receptions, 7 TDs) a ton with the rest of his receivers mostly new.
Florida State had a mostly disappointing 2016 campaign and a big part of that was because of a lackluster defense. But with guys like Derrick Nnadi back on the line and Trey Marshall in the secondary to go with the return of injured Derwin James, the Seminoles should have a much-improved season. But showing that improvement will undoubtedly be difficult in this Game, especially with Hurts on the other end of the field.
Either way, the ‘Noles will have to Scoreagainst what will be one of the nation’s best defenses. That’ll definitely be possible with Deondre Francois (3,350 yards, 20 TDs, 7 INTs) under center, but it won’t come easy. The sophomore quarterback is expected to take a leap in his second year, similar to Hurts. Unfortunately for Francois, there are new players all around him in the offense with Nyqwan Murray and Auden Tate the expected top receivers. In the backfield, Jacques Patrick has big shoes to fill in place of Dalvin Cook. Throw in the matchup against Alabama’s front, and it could be a troubling first Game as starter for Patrick.
The Tide will be dominant per usual on defense, but maybe more so in the secondary where safeties Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison run the show. Up front guys like Da’Ron Payne, Da’Shawn Hand and Rashaan Evans will become bigger names this year and will be a good test for an FSU line that returns only two starters.
Coming off last year’s up-and-down season, not many will be keen to back Florida State in this one. The lone way to cover and win will be through Francois. Otherwise, it’ll have to be up to the defense to keep this Game low scoring. Alabama’s offense will be a tough test for the ‘Noles and if Alabama scores early, that could be all that’s needed to clamp down on Francois and company.
Our Pick – It’s hard to not back this Alabama MAChine. When Our model crunches the numbers using last years data, it has the tide winning by anywhere from 10 to 17 points. Now, Florida State is loaded with returnig starters, but Alabama is Alabama, no one recruits better. Oh, and they have won 40 of their last 45 Games by 10 or more. Wow!
That being said, we are going to back Florida State here. As solid as this Bama “D” figures to be, if we look back to early last season, they gave up 43 to Ole Miss in week 3 and 30 to Arkansas in Week 6.
The Seminoles have had months to prepare for this one and this loaded offense figures to find the endzone as they did all last year. In what should be an electric atmosphere, we’ll take Our chances with the live dog in this one. Florida State +7