Looking Ahead with Gridiron Now

May 8, 2017

While most Week 1 matchups are sure to get attention, Alabama-Florida State will be the biggest game of the opening weekend. Alabama-Florida State is the biggest non-conference game of the season, to boot.
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Looking ahead: Alabama-Florida State by the numbers

Via Jason Hall – Gridiron Now
May 5, 2017
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Alabama and Florida State will kick off the season in a head-to-head matchup between perhaps the two biggest national title contenders, which makes the Week 1 matchup all the more crucial.

“This game is gonna be huge. FSU and ‘Bama are two of the favorite candidates to take the 2018 College Football Championship, and the September game has the potential to change the odds for both teams, so none of them can afford to start the season with a loss,” MyBookie.ag manager David Strauss said.

“On top of that, the season-opening game is also a match that many college football fans would like to see in January, and that isn’t that unrealistic after all.”

While most Week 1 matchups are sure to get attention, Alabama-Florida State will be the biggest game of the opening weekend. Alabama-Florida State is the biggest non-conference game of the season, to boot.

Here’s a look at the Alabama-Florida State matchup by the numbers.

ALABAMA

Returning starters: 7 offense, 6 defense

Key departures: TE O.J. Howard, OT Cam Robinson, WR ArDarius Stewart, DL Jonathan Allen, DL Dalvin Tomlinson, LB Tim Williams, LB Ryan Anderson, LB Reuben Foster, S Eddie Jackson

Offense

Total offense: 455.3 yards per game (34th nationally last season)

Scoring offense: 38.8 points per game (15th nationally)

Passing offense: 210.3 ypg (87th nationally)

Rushing offense: 245.0 ypg (12th nationally)

Returning individual leaders

Passing: Jalen Hurts, 240-of-382, 2,780 yards, 23 TDs, 9 INTs

Rushing: Damien Harris, 1,037 yards, 2 TDs

Receiving: Calvin Ridley, 72 receptions, 769 yards, 7 TDs

Alabama’s offensive tweaks under new coordinator Brian Daboll will be interesting to see. The Tide is incredibly deep at running back — former five-star recruit B.J. Emmons is sixth on the depth chart — and the running game figures to be the focal point of the offense. Hurts need to show progression as a passer; he stumbled down the stretch last season. Ridley is a proven threat on the outside, but a consistent complementary receiver must emerge.

Defense

Total defense: 261.8 yards per game (1st nationally last season)

Scoring defense: 13.0 points per game (1st nationally)

Passing defense: 197.9 ypg (24th nationally)

Rushing defense: 63.9 ypg (1st nationally)

Alabama loses three first-rounders on defense: Allen, Foster and Humphrey. In addition, Tomlinson, Williams, Anderson and Jackson are gone. But the Tide has managed to reload successfully in the past and talent remains in abundance, most notably with Da’Shawn Hand, Da’Ron Payne, Rashaan Evans and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

FLORIDA STATE

Returning starters: 7 offense, 9 defense

Key departures: RB Dalvin Cook, OT Roderick Johnson, WR Travis Rudolph, WR Kermit Whitfield, G Kareem Are, DE DeMarcus Walker, CB Marquez White

Offense

Total offense: 466.2 yards per game (25th nationally last season)

Scoring offense: 35.1 points per game (31st nationally)

Passing offense: 264.1 ypg (33rd nationally)

Rushing offense: 202.2 ypg (40th nationally)

Returning individual leaders

Passing: Deondre Francois, 235-of-400, 3,350 yards, 20 TDs, 7 INTs

Rushing: Jacques Patrick, 350 yards, 4 TDs

Receiving: Nyqwan “Noonie” Murray, 27 receptions, 441 yards, 5 TDs

Francois enjoyed a solid season as a redshirt freshman and, like Hurts, is expected to continue to continue his development as a passer. Replacing Cook, the leading rusher in school history, could be difficult. There are extremely high hopes for five-star freshman Cam Akers, who enrolled early; he has toughness and breakaway speed. Patrick lacks top-end speed, but is a physical runner. The line is a question mark. While Rudolph was the leading receiver, there is ample talent on the outside to replace him; Murray and Auden Tate should be a productive duo.

Defense

Total defense: 349.1 yards per game (22nd nationally)

Scoring defense: 25.0 points per game (44th nationally)

Passing defense: 221.1 (57th nationally)

Rushing defense: 128.0 ypg (21st nationally)

FSU gets star safety Derwin James back from a knee injury; he played in just two games last season but may be the best defensive player in the nation this season. There is great depth along the line, especially among the edge rushers, the linebackers should be solid and James’ return is huge for the secondary. Cornerback Tarvarus McFadden led the nation with eight picks last season.



Here’s a look at the 12 best non-conference games of the 2017 season

Via Mike Huguenin – Gridiron Now
April 19, 2017
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1. Alabama vs. Florida State

Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
When: September 2
TV: To be announced
The skinny: This is scheduled to be the first college game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and it is monstrous. It could match preseason No. 1 vs. preseason No. 2 — and, heck, it also could be the first of two meetings between the teams because it’s not far-fetched to think they also could meet in the national title game. (That, too, would be in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.) It’s huge even without the Jimbo Fisher-vs.-his old boss storyline. Both rosters are loaded with talent – these easily are two of the three or four best rosters in all of college football – and the field will be filled with high-level playmakers, including the two best defensive backs in the nation in Minkah Fitzpatrick of Alabama and Derwin James of Florida State. One big storyline surely will be how FSU’s offensive line – which had issues last season – handles Alabama’s stout front seven. Above all, there’s the ACC vs. SEC aspect of this. The ACC was better last season, and an Alabama win could help turn the tide, as it were, between the leagues.

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