In what is easily the most anticipated Week 1 NCAA Football match-up, the FSU Seminoles travel to Alabama to take on the Crimson Tide. Kickoff is set for 8:00 PM EST on Saturday, September 2nd at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. This high profile showdown is being televised nationally on ABC.
Taking a look at the opening week odds, Alabama opened as a 6.5 point favorite. As we draw closer to kick-off, early betting has increased the line by a slight margin, as the Crimson Tide are now listed at -7.5. The total for the contest is currently at 49 points.
Florida State vs Alabama Game Preview & Betting Odds
One of the biggest questions marks heading into this clash between two national powerhouses revolves around new Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. He inherits an exceptionally skilled unit lead by QB Jalen Hurts, an extremely mobile playmaker who also put up 2,700+ yards passing while throwing for 22 touchdowns in 2016. However, he didn’t exactly finish last season on a strong note, as he struggled throwing the ball down the stretch. Daboll has reportedly spent a ton of time over the summer working with Hurts on his mechanics and pushing the ball further downfield. Alabama also had to replace 3 out of its top 4 pass catchers, including NFL-bound ArDarius Stewart who led the team in both receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. This revamped receiving core certainly has a tall order right out of the gate against a strong FSU secondary.
On defense, the Crimson Tide have six starters returning from the 2016 team that was ranked as the #2 defense in the entire country. Both the secondary and defensive line are shaping up to be rock solid yet again. It remains to be seen how the loss of Tim Williams and Reuben Foster affect the linebacking corps, as Pruitt and Co. will certainly be looking to maintain their impressive pass rush that put up 54 sacks in 2016.
Florida State also has a ton of talent on offense, led by starting QB Deondre Francois. Auden Tate and Nyqwan Murray certainly have the ability to excel in even larger roles now that former leading receiver Travis Rudolph has departed for the NFL. With RB Dalvin Cook departing early, this backfield now belongs to star freshman Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick. Akers has the talent to make an immediate impact, and he should be fun to watch as he makes his NCAA debut here in Week 1 on a national stage.
This Seminoles secondary is going to be an absolute nightmare for opposing offenses in 2017. Defensive coordinator Charles Kelly has an embarrassment of riches to work with including Nate Andrews, Derwin James, and Trey Marshall. Additionally, Tavarus McFadden put up a ridiculous 8 interceptions last season – tied for 1st in the entire country. The starting defensive line looks great as well, and should have no problem putting immense pressure on Hurts early and often.
Free College Football Betting Selection: OVER 49
While I do feel like FSU is certainly talented enough to stay within a touchdown of the Crimson Tide in a difficult spot on the road, I don’t like betting against Alabama in early season “statement games”. It really is one of the most impressive Week 1 NCAA Football showdowns ever. This match-up has been anticipated nationally for weeks, and I really feel like Saban will have his team primed and ready to confirm their No. 1 ranking to start the season. Alabama is 10-0 in their last ten home openers, while also going 9-1 ATS in that stretch. Those numbers are impossible to ignore, even against a quality opponent like Florida State.
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I like the OVER mainly because of the huge pressure both of these teams are facing in Week 1. I expect some early season jitters on both sides, and whether caused by adrenaline, nervousness, or a combination of both, shaky nerves usually lead to mistakes (and points). Although it is entirely possible that both defenses put on a fantastic show and keep scoring to a minimum (especially this tremendous FSU unit), I think that it is more likely that scoring in this game is slightly elevated.
I’m certainly not suggesting this game will be a shoot-out, and actually anticipate both offenses being somewhat risk-averse during their first few possessions before settling in. I just think the most likely scenario is an exciting, close game where both teams end up scoring between 25-30 points – more than enough to hit the current total of 49. Both teams have a ton of firepower on both sides of the ball and this marquee match-up to start the 2017 season should be a real treat to watch.