The college football season technically kicked off last weekend, but there were only five inconsequential games. Things really get going this weekend, and easily the marquee matchup is No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 3 Florida State in a potential College Football Playoff elimination game.
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Florida State Seminoles
Alabama is the No. 1 team in the preseason Associated Press poll and Florida State is No. 3. A No. 1 team has never faced another team in the Top 3 in the opening week of a college football season. No school has made the College Football Playoff with two losses, so the loser Saturday may have no wiggle room the rest of the way. This is the first big event in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta – it also hosts this year’s national title game.
When: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
NCAA Point Spread: Alabama -7
NCAA Football Point Spread and Betting Analysis
As good as Florida State might be, did you expect the Crimson Tide to be underdogs? They have opened as a dog just once this decade, which is completely ridiculous. That was a 2015 game at Georgia, and the Tide crushed the Bulldogs that day. Coach Nick Saban’s squad hadn’t been an underdog before that since the 2009 SEC Championship Game against Tim Tebow’s Florida Gators. FSU, meanwhile, has been a 7-point regular-season underdog only twice this decade (lost both). With this NCAA football point spread holding at Alabama -7, about 67 percent of bettors like the Crimson Tide to cover.
Alabama Crimson Tide
The Tide bring back only 11 starters from last year’s team that lost in the national championship game to Clemson. Bama lost a lot of talent to the NFL Draft, but that happens annually and Saban simply reloads with five-star All-American recruits. That program is a factory of talent. While the defense especially took some hits, the offense has likely the best collection of skill-position talent in the country in quarterback Jalen Hurts, running backs Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris, and receiver Calvin Ridley. That group might have to carry the load early in the season as the defense jells. Scarbrough is +1400 on college football odds to win the Heisman and Hurts +1600. The Tide are +240 favourites to win their fifth national title under Saban. Bama will be favoured in every regular-season game, barring injury, with the toughest tests after Saturday likely Nov. 4 vs. No. 13 LSU and Nov. 25 at No. 12 Auburn.
Florida State Seminoles
Florida State was the winner of the final BCS National Championship behind a quarterback by the name of Jameis Winston. The Seminoles then reached the first College Football Playoff the following season but were blown out by Oregon and haven’t been back. Clemson has reigned over the ACC the past two seasons thanks to Deshaun Watson, but FSU is the -100 betting favourite to win it in 2017 behind 16 returning starters. The Seminoles lost superstar running back Dalvin Cook to the NFL but bring back sophomore QB Deondre Francois, who is +1800 to win the Heisman Trophy like Winston did. The Florida State defensive secondary might be the country’s best. Should FSU lose this game close, it might have a chance at making the playoff with two losses if it loses (close) to another good team like Miami, Louisville or Clemson but still wins the ACC title. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher is a former assistant to Saban.
Alabama vs. Florida State Prediction
Tide win 31-24, so smart bet is backing Tide at -6.5 (-123) to avoid a potential push.